General updates 2011: Dec/Jan

At the end of 2010, I decided to terminate the Interesting Stuff series, which I’ve been running on this blog for the last two years. This is the first in the series that will replace it. Instead of interesting links followed (possibly) by a personal soapbox, the personal stuff will come first with (possibly) some recommended links at the end.

This update spans the period from Christmas (December 25) to the beginning of a short family holiday in Perth, Western Australia (January 2), and includes some links to interesting articles I came across in that period.

Every year since 1983 I’ve spent Christmas at my parents’ place, and either my sister or I have chosen a tree to decorate. 2010 marked a break with tradition. My parents came to visit me, bringing with them a miniature tree (aka a branch) to decorate. Highlights of the afternoon: watching the official DVD of their Silk Route package tour (slideshow format with background music), going for a walk in the local Shepherds Hill Recreation Park (my parents had never been all the way to the railway line before), and the food (Mum’s cooking, followed by cheesecake with mulberries in jelly for dessert — delicious).

There was a larger family gathering at my sister’s place on Boxing Day. Caught up with cousins etc, and had a good time. Got a dragon necklace that my sister bought in Malaysia, the latest edition of Uncle David’s family history CD, and some very rich sweet food.

After that, I went home to my parents’ place for about a week, during which time I picked quite a few mulberries and saw my parents’ pet dinosaurs for the first time. Here they are:

On January 2nd, my parents and I left for a short holiday in Perth, Western Australia. I’ll have more to say about that in an upcoming post, but for now, suffice to say that I had never been to Western Australia before.


  • Everyone’s been playing with Google N-grams, and here’s one of my favourite results: Good became less popular than evil sometime around 1750. In other words, evil is winning! Mwahahahaha!!! (OK, not really. I cheated, by sneakily taking advantage of case sensitivity. But if you find my cheating objectionable, then you misunderstand the concept of evil.)
  • A scientific American article summarising ways in which recent decades of research have shown the mind and the body to be connected.
  • Aboriginal paintings kept alive by fungus. (More details from the BBC.)
  • A post from Bioephemera reminds me of the Life Science/Nature Library series, some of which I remember reading as a child (they were second-hand when I got them). From the Science series I remember Mathematics, (which I used to teach myself some basic differential calculus, in defiance of the adults who refused to explain it to me). From the Nature series I remember Early Man (which as I recall contained an inordinate preoccupation with Zinjanthropus and favoured a multiregional hypothesis that’s now utterly out of date) and The Universe (which was my introduction to a lot of things in astronomy, although apart from galaxy classification I’d be hard pressed to remember what they were).
  • The December 27 episode of 365 Days of Astronomy is one of my all-time favourites. It is both well-presented and informative: I’d never really thought about the regional geology of asteroids before. Related: For $30 I have sponsored the upcoming January 12 episode of the podcast, taking the opportunity to honour my favourite episodes from 2009 and 2010.

3 Responses to “General updates 2011: Dec/Jan”

  1. elshahawk Says:

    yay dinosaurs! is that triceratops decorated for Christmas? I thought you were going to say you decorated them instead of the tree!

  2. Flesh-eating Dragon Says:

    Yeah, I didn’t ask whose idea that was. Probably Mum.

    I still haven’t actually got my mulberries, btw. My parents have them safely stored in the freezer and will bring some bags down to me when they can.

  3. elshahawk Says:

    Mulberries! You have to get a picture, we have mulberries that grow wild here, too. They are delicious weeds, but a pain to get rid of if they are growing the wrong place! Turtles like mulberries.

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