how wordpress sells your soul

Do you use wordpress to blog?  Thought it a little less contentious than the ever-expanding  über information-hoarder that is google/blogger?  WordPress would have you think that is way cooler and on it’s front page it says “We like to say that WordPress is both free and priceless at the same time“.  Free, maybe.  Priceless, I think not.

If you use wordpress you are inevitably, due to cookies, logged in if you view your blog or another blog on wordpress.    And if you are logged in to wordpress, there is a little detail that is kept from your delicate little eyes.  Adverts.

They are not so crass as to load the ads up on your home page, that would be a bit to obvious and you might spot it.  And you might object.  But if a non wordpress person views a  page individually (which is the normal route through words entered into a search engine), your new reader gets the ads at the bottom of the post.  I just spent 5 minutes with an old post and the F5 button and the following companies are advertising on my blog.

David Lloyd Leisure
Kuoni (who-oni?)
Specsavers (FFS!)
Churchill Insurance
Alpari (eh?)
Groupon (again)
Groupon (what the fuck is groupon anyway?) (they didn’t think that through did they?)
Tesco (natch)
Royal Caribbean International
Sky news.  No, really.
I suspect I could wear out the F5 button before the variety of ads stop. 
There am I, and quite possibly you too, having your service provider using your innocent little witterings to sell advertising space to  Rupert Murdoch  Satan.
You happy with that?  Because I’m not.
Don’t have a picture, but for once do have a splendid piece of musical architecture by The Aphex Twin which seems entirely apposite.  Do  yourself a favour, and turn the volume on and up.
Laters, yeah?

the handy guide to dodo identification

That’s right kids – here is a brand new way of accurately nailing that most tricky of species, the ugly cousin of the Mauritius Solitaire – the Dodo.  This is the kind of inside info that you cannot get in your Collins or Sibley.  Bookmark it – tell your friends – this is important ok?

Look, I know this is blog is advertised and probably derided in equal measure as a dodgy-patch-birding-blog, but it’s pretty quiet out there, and there is only so much distance I can get out of  ‘I saw a Kestrel fly off’,  ‘I saw some Wigeon yesterday’, or ‘my year list is nearly twenty’ – but I thought that this might be interesting, so here goes.

The Dodo – Raphus cucullatus.  If someone you know has Dodo on their list, they probably have a half glimpse of a Slaty-backed on there  in permanent marker. Or their name is Nebuchadnezzar.  Either way, it is, as I am sure you know properly, properly very extinct indeed.  No comeback tour for this 20kg mother.  Not Slender-billed Curlew extinct either – this one will not be rediscovered by loads of birders having their holidays in Ulan Bator or somesuch.  Anyway, here is the classic image of the Dodo painted by the esteemed Dutchman (I only want to help you) Roelandt Savery.

i nicked this from the grauniad

(Is that a Macaw?  Is that possible?)

Now this is the rub.  It was assumed, because it’s what he said, that this was drawn from life studies of the now non-life-like Dodo.  But others claim that this is not the case, and like most other Dodo drawers he painted from stuffed birds or skeletons or what not.  Now, it seems that the Natural History Museum and this cool dude called Julian Hume have got together to produce something a bit more accurate based on bones and facts and all those good things that avoid supposition.  The pictures are up in the Natural History Museum, perhaps even permanently.  A rubbish electronic copy of your new Dodo ID reference is here…

i nicked this from the grauniad also

The keen eyed super-birder will have noticed that the birds head is smaller, the body is less bulky, legs longer and neck straighter.  The wings, which being a flightless bird are redundant, are more Penguin like or even Great Auk-ish.   So next time that you are confronted with a strange looking Raphidae on your local rubbish tip, you know exactly what to look for.

No, don’t thank me.  I seek no praise for this – think of it as a kind of public service.

By the way, despite the Dodo supposedly being eaten to death by sailors, it tasted ‘orrible.  And Savery painted a picture of it’s arse for some strange reason.  Perspective I guess.

an anatomically incorrect dodo doing scratching


 More Julian Hume Dodo stuff can be accessed by clicking your mouse on these words.

Constable’s Moorhen

On the telly last night, right, there was a programme called Secret Lives Of The Artists which was about John Constable.  Alexander Graham-Dixon presenting an hour of him chuffing about in his open topped Saab in the Dedham Vale, not seeing the original veiws that Constable painted but still very enjoyable all the same.  What has this to do with birds I  hear you ask?  Well, funny you should ask! As one of the pictures that was being discussed (the last of Constable’s ‘six-footers’ called The Leaping Horse) was scanning across the screen there was a cracking image in the bottom right corner of a Moorhen taking flight.  Not a bad effort at all (says the man that is hard pressed to draw a carrot in the correct shape).

Here is a screen dump of said image.

A Moorhen in a Constable Picture