Archive for Poland

it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness

Posted in Kids, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 30, 2021 by xi'an

solidarność z Polkami

Posted in Statistics with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 30, 2020 by xi'an

Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead [book review]

Posted in Statistics with tags , , , , , on March 15, 2020 by xi'an

I read (the French translation of) this novel, by Olga Tokarczuk, whose title comes from a poem by William Blake:

In seed time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy.
Drive your cart and your plow over the bones of the dead.

Actually Blake is central to the story as the main narrator is helping a former student of her to translate Blake letters and poems into Polish. Although she is a retired civil engineering. And an astrologer. And a free-thinker. And a feminist. And an ecologist fighting hunting and hunters. Plus a potential hypochondriac. While the book is promoted (at least in French) as an unusual type of countryside murder mystery, the rendering of the psychological complexity of the narrator and of the local community is much more powerful than the murder inquiry itself, in a picaresque spirit that reminded me very much of the best novels of Arto Paasilinna. Because, while supported by the many practical aspects of the almost recluse life of this ageing woman, the story keeps escaping reality and realism, to the point I was utterly surprised by the ending of the book. Apart from the lengthy if necessary passages about astrology, I really enjoyed reading about Janina Duszejko (not Dushenko!).

radioactive ant fiction [in J. Hymenoptera Research]

Posted in Books, Kids, pictures, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 30, 2019 by xi'an

Following a link in Nature, I read a short communication in the Journal of Hymenoptera Research [which I confess I rarely peruse!], which sounded more like a B movie from the 1950s than a scientific article. Starting with the title “Ants trapped for years in an old bunker; survival by cannibalism“! (This is actually the second episode in the series.) While the bunker was intended for storing Soviet nuclear weapons, no radioactivity impacted on the ants and they (the colony) survived in the dark at the bottom of the bunker for 22 years, with no source of food but their own, with new ants falling into the bunker on a regular basis. Hence the title. What I found most surprising in the paper is the fact that it is a sheer description of an observation (with field pictures) and of an intervention (we set a 3m vertical boardwalk to allow for escape) that reminded me more of my childhood fascination with ants (involving radical interventions) than of a typical science paper!

news from the theocrazy [Uwolnić Elę]

Posted in pictures, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 11, 2019 by xi'an