elephant stand

Look down the long valley and there stands a mountain
That someone has said is the end of the world.
Then what of this river that having arisen
Must find where to pour itself into and empty?
I never saw so much swift water run cloudless.
Oh, I have been often too anxious for rivers
To leave it to them to get out of their valleys.
The truth is the river flows into the canyon
Of Ceasing-to Question-What-Doesn’t-Concern-Us,
As sooner of later we have to cease somewhere.
No place to get lost like too far in the distance.
It may be a mercy the dark closes round us
So broodingly soon in every direction.
The world as we know is an elephant’s howdah;
The elephant stands on the back of a turtle;
The turtle in turn on a rock in the ocean.
And how much longer a story has science
Before she must put out the light on the children
And tell them the rest of the story is dreaming?
‘You children may dream it and tell it tomorrow.’
Time was we were molten, time was we were vapor.
What set us on fire and what set us revolving,
Lucretius the Epicurean might tell us
'Twas something we knew all about to begin with
And needn’t have fared into space like his master
To find 'twas the effort, the essay of love.
—  Robert Frost, “Too Anxious for Rivers” (my favorite for World Poetry Day)

They say the world is flat and supported on the back of four elephants who themselves stand on the back of a giant turtle.
They say that the elephants, being such huge beasts, have bones of rock and iron, and nerves of gold for better conductivity over long distances.*
They say that the fifth elephant came screaming and trumpeting through the atmosphere of the young world all those years ago and landed hard enough to split continents and raise mountains.
No one actually saw it land, which raised the interesting philosophical point: When millions of tons of angry elephant come spinning through the sky, but there is no one to hear it, does it – philosophically speaking – make a noise?
And if there was no one to see it hit, did it actually hit?
In other words, wasn’t it just a story for children, to explain away some interesting natural occurrences?
As for the dwarfs, whose legend it is, and who mine a lot deeper than other people, they say that there is a grain of truth in it.

*Not rock and iron in their dead form, as they are now, but living rock and iron. The dwarfs have quite an inventive mythology about minerals.

– on the fifth elephant | Terry Pratchett, The Fifth Elephant

Model Doutzen Kroes Takes a Stand for Elephants

Nov. 18 – Supermodel Doutzen Kroes leads the #knotonmyplanet campaign to aid endangered African elephants, just one of her philanthropic efforts away from the runway. Kroes graces the cover of the latest issue of Bloomberg Pursuits magazine and is featured in the debut episode of the magazine’s new show this weekend on Blomberg Television. Bloomberg’s Emma Rosenblum previews both on “Bloomberg Markets.”

i think my favorite civil war thing to happen is there was a general who was making fun of the other side sayin shit like “they couldn’t hit an elephant if it was standing right infront of them!” and then immediately after got shot in the head from over half a mile away and fuckin died

They say the world is flat and supported on the back of four elephants who themselves stand on the back of a giant turtle.

They say that the elephants, being such huge beasts, have bones of rock and iron, and nerves of gold for better conductivity over long distances.
They say that the fifth elephant came screaming and trumpeting through the atmosphere of the young world all those years ago and landed hard enough to split continents and raise mountains.
No one actually saw it land, which raised the interesting philosophical point: When millions of tons of angry elephant come spinning through the sky, but there is no one to hear it, does it—philosophically speaking—make a noise?
And if there was no one to see it hit, did it actually hit?
In other words, wasn’t it just a story for children, to explain away some interesting natural occurrences?
As for the dwarfs, whose legend it is, and who mine a lot deeper than other people, they say that there is a grain of truth in it.

—  Terry Pratchett / The Fifth Elephant
Elephant pose

Begin standing with your feet wide apart

Take a big breath in and bring your hands over your head

(Clasp your hands to make your trunk)

As you breath out lower your trunk towards the ground

Take another big breath in to raise your trunk, and let out your best elephant sound has you breath out to lower your trunk!

Now that you have your elephant pose down its time to get moving! Show us your best elephant walk as you wander around the safari! What does your elephant sound like? Did you know that an elephant could purr just like a cat does?? They are also the largest land mammals on the planet and are one of the only animals that can’t jump. This pose is an energizer and helps strengthen your arm and stomach muscles. Not only is this a pose, but it is also a breathing exercise. The breath work we use with elephant pose will help open up your lungs and making room for more oxygen, which is a great way to release stress and help your child become focused!

After you and your child practice this pose see if you can come up with any more fun facts about elephants. Please share them with us in the comments below

Abigail Hammond

Photograph from an album of 80 albumen prints taken by Eugene Clutterbuck Impey [1860s]. View of massive carved Jain image, with canopy supported by elephants. An Indian figure stands at the base of the statue to indicate scale. The location is the little town of Paranagar near the Sariska Tiger Sanctuary in Rajasthan, known for its ruined temples. British Library

Kingdom of kings

Ornate turrets perch above roof tops, stately arches form entrances to pink stone buildings, elephants stand side by side swinging their tails back and forth, brightly coloured patchwork designs adorn every inch of stalls standing at the side of streets full to bursting with cars, autos, bikes and pedestrians.

Palaces are hidden behind busy streets, or are reflected in lakes. City walls surround an inner chaos. We cross paths with elephants trudging back from carrying guests to visit the ancient fortresses guarding the city. Camels can be spotted down quiet alleys munching leisurely, finding their inner zen, before it’s their turn to trot noisily between oncoming traffic pulling rickshaws with ‘Merry Christmas’ signs hung from the back, jungle bells hanging from their necks and tinsel dangling in their eyes. Street sellers accost you with puppets, Rajasthani sweets and vegetable thalis.

This was Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan, the kingdom of kings, where I met my dad who’d come to keep my company for Christmas.

We walked around palaces, ate in palaces, slept in palaces, drank in palaces and admired palaces. There was decoration on decorations, gold plating gold, patterns within patterns.

After a few days, once the cows, sheep, goats, pigs, dogs, camels and elephants roaming the streets of Jaipur were no longer enough to satiate our desire to see wildlife, we boarded a local bus to Ranthambore National Park, famous for it’s high concentration of wild tigers.

Approaching the bus station, we were sold a ticket for a ‘delux’ bus which bumped and bounced it’s way through every village en route (or not) to our destination, arrived and collapsed into a bed with a tiger print furry blanket and paw prints up the walls.

Having some prior experience of the Indian ‘safari’, we avoided the offers of boarding a jeep to race around the park with all the other jeeps. Instead we set off into the National Park on foot, and made it safely through the park entrance without any questions. We passed plenty of deer, nilgai, and a couple of crocodiles basking by a lake. Our levels of excitement were taken up a notch when a jeep passing in the opposite direction stopped to roll down it’s window to alert us of a leopard on the tracks.

Luckily we reached without incident Ranthambore fort, strategically positioned at the top of a hill, with a neighbouring temple swamped by monkeys. As we reached the top we heard rumours of a tiger sighting a few moments before and as it began to get dark, we decided we’d done enough walking and hitched a ride for the journey home.

For our final destination in Rajasthan we choose the desert trading town Bikaner where my grandmother’s family moved to after the partition. We opted for an overnight train ride this time, but the lack of tickets available left us in sleeper class (the lowest carraige class) without blankets. We spent the night huddled on benches in wooly jumpers and jackets, until the train deposited us at Bikaner station at 430am, where we waited bleary eyed until our hotel owner kindly let us in. 

Most of our memories of Bikaner were created after sunset, as early on in the trip we befriended the party king of the town (a descendent of the maharajas), a kindred spirit who ensured our nights were always full of life and with our glasses always full of… well anything alcoholic. We saw the sun set on 2016 from the top of a sand dune in the middle of the desert and spent the rest of the evening attempting to dance whilst balancing glasses of gin on our heads to the accompaniment of an Indian village bagpipe band.

Moral Values - G. K. Chesterton (Part 2)

For Part 1 by C. S. Lewis, click here.

G. K. Chesterton was an ardent critic of much of the modern madness, including among other things the madness of progress. This short piece taken from a chapter of his book, Orthodoxy, deals in part with moral values as he critiques the theory of progress. 

Chapter 7: The Eternal Revolution

Some satisfaction is needed even to make things better. But what do we mean by making things better? Most modern talk on this matter is a mere argument in a circle - that circle which we have already made the symbol of madness and of mere rationalism. Evolution is only good if it produces good; good is only good if it helps evolution. The elephant stands on the tortoise, and the tortoise on the elephant.

Obviously, it will not do to take our ideal from the principle in nature; for the simple reason that (except for some human or divine theory), there is no principle in nature. For instance, the cheap anti-democrat of to-day will tell you solemnly that there is no equality in nature. He is right, but he does not see the logical addendum. There is no equality in nature; also there is no inequality in nature. Inequality, as much as equality, implies a standard of value. 

To read aristocracy into the anarchy of animals is just as sentimental as to read democracy into it. Both aristocracy and democracy are human ideals: the one saying that all men are valuable, the other that some men are more valuable. 

But nature does not say that cats are more valuable than mice; nature makes no remark on the subject. She does not even say that the cat is enviable or the mouse pitiable. We think the cat superior because we have (or most of us have) a particular philosophy to the effect that life is better than death. But if the mouse were a German pessimist mouse, he might not think that the cat had beaten him at all. He might think he had beaten the cat by getting to the grave first. Or he might feel that he had actually inflicted frightful punishment on the cat by keeping him alive. Just as a microbe might feel proud of spreading a pestilence, so the pessimistic mouse might exult to think that he was renewing in the cat the torture of conscious existence. It all depends on the philosophy of the mouse. 

You cannot even say that there is victory or superiority in nature unless you have some doctrine about what things are superior. You cannot even say that the cat scores unless there is a system of scoring. You cannot even say that the cat gets the best of it unless there is some best to be got.

Pass of Breath

Do your ears hear?

For they never hear the words

That pass my chapped lips

My desperate pleas

Begging you to listen


I ask you once

Then I ask you again

I ask you over and over again

It seems as if my words

Blow past your brown hair

Like a warm wind

On a cold rainy day

They enter

Then disappear in a matter of seconds

Perhaps less


I have wasted more air on you

Than I blow into the filter of a cigarette

More air

Than when I breathe out the toxins

I fill my lungs with


Sometimes when I walk up a stairway

Or down a hill

I feel a pain in my lungs

An entrapment

A constriction

An elephant standing on my chest

Stomping in glee


At times I wonder

If it’s all the nicotine

That I chose to inhale


But now I know

It’s not the tar

The chemicals

Or the poisoned tobacco


It’s the pain of which I feel

After too much wasted breath

On you.  

This is the bright candlelit room where the life-timers are stored – shelf upon shelf of them, squat hourglasses, one for every living person, pouring their fine sand from the future into the past. The accumulated hiss of the falling grains makes the room roar like the sea.

This is the owner of the room, stalking through it with a preoccupied air. His name is Death.

But not any Death. This is the Death whose particular sphere of operations is, well, not a sphere at all, but the Discworld, which is flat and rides on the back of four giant elephants who stand on the shell of the enormous star turtle Great A'Tuin, and which is bounded by a waterfall that cascades endlessly into space.

Scientists have calculated that the chance of anything so patently absurd actually existing are millions to one.

But magicians have calculated that million-to-one chances crop up nine times out of ten.

Death clicks across the black and white tiled floor on toes of bone, muttering inside his cowl as his skeletal fingers count along the rows of busy hourglasses.

Finally he finds one that seems to satisfy him, lifts it carefully from its shelf and carries it across to the nearest candle. He holds it so that the light lints off it, and stares at the little point of reflected brilliance.

The steady gaze from those twinkling eye-sockets encompasses the world turtle, sculling through the deeps of space, carapace scarred by comets and pitted by meteors. One day even Great A'Tuin will die, Death knows; now, that would be a challenge.

But the focus of his gaze dives onwards towards the blue-green magnificence of the Disc itself, turning slowly under its tiny orbiting sun.

Now it curves away towards the great mountain range called the Ramtops. The Ramtops are full of deep valleys and unexpected crags and considerably more geography than they know what to do with. They have their own peculiar weather, full of shrapnel rain and whiplash winds and permanent thunder-storms. Some people say it’s all because the Ramtops are the home of old, wild magic. Mind you, some people will say anything.

Death blinks, adjusts for depth of vision. Now he sees the grassy country on the turnwise slopes of the mountains.

Now he sees a particular hillside.

Now he sees a field.

Now he sees a boy, running.

Now he watches.

Now, in a voice like lead slabs being dropped on granite, he says: YES.

There was no doubt that there was something magical in the soil of that hilly, broken area which – because of the strange tint that it gave to the local flora – was known as the octarine grass country. For example, it was one of the few places on the Disc where plants produced reannual varieties.

Reannuals are plants that grow backwards in time. You sow the seed this year and they grow last year.

Mort’s family specialised in distilling the wine from reannual grapes. These were very powerful and much sought after by fortune-tellers, since of course they enabled them to see the future. The only snag was that you got the hangover the morning before, and had to drink a lot to get over it.

Reannual growers tended to be big, serious men, much given to introspection and close examination of the calendar. A farmer who neglects to sow ordinary seeds only loses the crop, whereas anyone who forgets to sow seeds of a crop that has already been harvested twelve months before risks disturbing the entire fabric of causality, not to mention acute embarrassment.

It was also acutely embarrassing to Mort’s family that the youngest son was not at all serious and had about the same talent for horticulture that you would find in a dead starfish. It wasn’t that he was unhelpful, but he had the land of vague, cheerful helpfulness that serious men soon learn to dread. There was something infectious, possibly even fatal, about it. He was tall, red-haired and freckled, with the sort of body that seems to be only marginally under its owner’s control; it appeared to have been built out of knees.

On this particular day it was hurtling across the high fields, waving its hands and yelling.

Mort’s father and uncle watched it disconsolately from the stone wall.

‘What I don’t understand,’ said father Lezek, 'is that the birds don’t even fly away. I’d fly away, if I saw it coining towards me.’

'Ah. The human body’s a wonderful thing. I mean, his legs go all over the place but there’s a fair turn of speed there.’

Mort reached the end of a furrow. An overfull woodpigeon lurched slowly out of his way.

'His heart’s in the right place, mind,’ said Lezek, carefully.

'Ah. 'Course, 'tis the rest of him that isn’t.’

'He’s clean about the house. Doesn’t eat much,’ said Lezek.

'No, I can see that.’

Lezek looked sideways at his brother, who was staring fixedly at the sky.

'I did hear you’d got a place going up at your farm, Hamesh,’ he said.

'Ah. Got an apprentice in, didn’t I?’

'Ah,’ said Lezek gloomily, 'when was that, then?’

'Yesterday,’ said his brother, lying with rattlesnake speed. 'All signed and sealed. Sorry. Look, I got nothing against young Mort, see, he’s as nice a boy as you could wish to meet, it’s just that —’

'I know, I know,’ said Lezek. 'He couldn’t find his arse with both hands.’

They stared at the distant figure. It had fallen over. Some pigeons had waddled over to inspect it.

'He’s not stupid, mind,’ said Hamesh. 'Not what you’d call stupid.’

'There’s a brain there all right,’ Lezek conceded. 'Sometimes he starts thinking so hard you has to hit him round the head to get his attention. His granny taught him to read, see. I reckon it overheated his mind.’

Mort had got up and tripped over his robe.

'You ought to set him to a trade,’ said Hamesh, reflectively. 'The priesthood, maybe. Or wizardry. They do a lot of reading, wizards.’

They looked at each other. Into both their minds stole an inkling of what Mort might be capable of if he got his well-meaning hands on a book of magic.

'All right,’ said Hamesh hurriedly. 'Something else, then. There must be lots of things he could turn his hand to.’

'He starts thinking too much, that’s the trouble,’ said Lezek. 'Look at him now. You don’t think about how to scare birds, you just does it. A normal boy, I mean.’

Hamesh scratched his chin thoughtfully.

'It could be someone else’s problem,’ he said.

Lezek’s expression did not alter, but there was a subtle change around his eyes.

'How do you mean?’ he said.

'There’s the hiring fair at Sheepridge next week. You set him as a prentice, see, and his new master’ll have the job of knocking him into shape. 'Tis the law. Get him indentured, and 'tis binding.’

Lezek looked across the field at his son, who was examining a rock.

'I wouldn’t want anything to happen to him, mind,’ he said doubtfully. 'We’re quite fond of him, his mother and me. You get used to people.’

'It’d be for his own good, you’ll see. Make a man of him.’

'Ah. Well. There’s certainly plenty of raw material,’ sighed Lezek.

Mort was getting interested in the rock. It had curly shells in it, relics of the early days of the world when the Creator had made creatures out of stone, no-one knew why.

Mort was interested in lots of things. Why people’s teeth fitted together so neatly, for example. He’d given that one a lot of thought. Then there was the puzzle of why the sun came out during the day, instead of at night when the light would come in useful. He knew the standard explanation, which somehow didn’t seem satisfying.

In short, Mort was one of those people who are more dangerous than a bag full of rattlesnakes. He was determined to discover the underlying logic behind the universe.

Which was going to be hard, because there wasn’t one. The Creator had a lot of remarkably good ideas when he put the world together, but making it understandable hadn’t been one of them.

Tragic heroes always moan when the gods take an interest in them, but it’s the people the gods ignore who get the really tough deals.

His father was yelling at him, as usual. Mort threw the rock at a pigeon, which was almost too full to lurch out of the way, and wandered back across the field.

And that was why Mort and his father walked down through the mountains into Sheepridge on Hogswatch Eve, with Mort’s rather sparse possessions in a sack on the back of a donkey. The town wasn’t much more than four sides to a cobbled square, lined with shops that provided all the service industry of the farming community.

After five minutes Mort came out of the tailors wearing a loose fitting brown garment of imprecise function, which had been understandably unclaimed by a previous owner and had plenty of room for him to grow, on the assumption that he would grow into a nineteen-legged elephant.

His father regarded him critically.

'Very nice,’ he said, 'for the money.’

'It itches,’ said Mort. 'I think there’s things in here with me.’

There’s thousands of lads in the world’d be very thankful for a nice warm —’ Lezek paused, and gave up – 'garment like that, my lad.’

'I could share it with them?’ Mort said hopefully.

'You’ve got to look smart,’ said Lezek severely. 'You’ve got to make an impression, stand out in the crowd.’

There was no doubt about it. He would. They set out among the throng crowding the square, each listening to his own thoughts. Usually Mort enjoyed visiting the town, with its cosmopolitan atmosphere and strange dialects from villages as far away as five, even ten miles, but this time he felt unpleasantly apprehensive, as if he could remember something that hadn’t happened yet.

The fair seemed to work like this: men looking for work stood in ragged lines in the centre of the square. Many of them sported little symbols in their hats to tell the world the kind of work they were trained in – shepherds wore a wisp of wool, carters a hank of horsehair, interior decorators a strip of rather interesting hessian wallcovering, and so on.

The boys seeking apprenticeships were clustered on the Hub side of the square.

'You just go and stand there, and someone comes and offers you an apprenticeship,’ said Lezek, his voice trimmed with uncertainty. 'If they like the look of you, that is.’

'How do they do that?’ said Mort.

'Well,’ said Lezek, and paused. Hamesh hadn’t explained about this bit. He drew on his limited knowledge of the marketplace, which was restricted to livestock sales, and ventured, 'I suppose they count your teeth and that. And make sure you don’t wheeze and your feet are all right. I shouldn’t let on about the reading, it unsettles people.’

'And then what?’ said Mort.

'Then you go and learn a trade,’ said Lezek.

'What trade in particular?’

'Well … carpentry is a good one,’ Lezek hazarded. 'Or thievery. Someone’s got to do it.’

Mort looked at his feet. He was a dutiful son, when he remembered, and if being an apprentice was what was expected of him then he was determined to be a good one. Carpentry didn’t sound very promising, though – wood had a stubborn life of its own, and a tendency to split. And official thieves were rare in the Ramtops, where people weren’t rich enough to afford them.

'All right,’ he said eventually, 'I’ll go and give it a try. But what happens if I don’t get prenticed?’

Lezek scratched his head.

'I don’t know,’ he said. 'I expect you just wait until the end of the fair. At midnight. I suppose.’

And now midnight approached.

A light frost began to crisp the cobblestones. In the ornamental clock tower that overlooked the square a couple of delicately-carved little automatons whirred out of trapdoors in the clockface and struck the quarter hour.

Fifteen minutes to midnight. Mort shivered, but the crimson fires of shame and stubbornness flared up inside him, hotter than the slopes of Hell. He blew on his fingers for something to do and stared up at the freezing sky, trying to avoid the stares of the few stragglers among what remained of the fair. 

‘Oh, I know about that. My father told me all about that when we used to take the thargas to be mated. When a man and a woman —’

'About the universe is what I meant,’ said Albert hurriedly. 'I mean, have you ever thought about it?’

'I know the Disc is carried through space on the backs of four elephants that stand on the shell of Great A'Tuin,’ said Mort.

'That’s just part of it. I meant the whole universe of time and space and life and death and day and night and everything.’

'Can’t say I’ve ever given it much thought,’ said Mort.

'Ah. You ought. The point is, the nodes are part of it. They stop death from getting out of control, see. Not him, not Death. Just death itself. Like, uh —’ Albert struggled for words – 'like, death should come exactly at the end of life, see, and not before or after, and the nodes have to be worked out so that the key figures … you’re not taking this in, are you?’

'Sorry.’

'They’ve got to be worked out,’ said Albert flatly, 'and then the correct lives have got to be got. The hourglasses, you call them. The actual Duty is the easy job.’

'Can you do it?’

'No. Can you?’

'No!’

Albert sucked reflectively at his peppermint. That’s the whole world in the gyppo, then,’ he said.

'Look, I can’t see why you’re so worried. I expect he’s just got held up somewhere,’ said Mort, but it sounded feeble even to him. It wasn’t as though people buttonholed Death to tell him another story, or clapped him on the back and said things like 'You’ve got time for a quick half in there, my old mate, no need to rush off home’ or invited him to make up a skittles team and come out for a Klatchian take-away afterwards, or … It struck Mort with sudden, terrible poignancy that Death must be the loneliest creature in the universe. In the great party of Creation, he was always in the kitchen.

'I’m sure I don’t know what’s come over the master lately,’ mumbled Albert. 'Out of the chair, my girl. Let’s have a look at these nodes.’

They opened the ledger.

They looked at it for a long time.

Then Mort said, 'What do all those symbols mean?’

'Sodomy non sapiens,’ said Albert under his breath.

'What does that mean?’

'Means I’m buggered if I know.’

That was wizard talk, wasn’t it?’ said Mort.

'You shut up about wizard talk. I don’t know anything about wizard talk. You apply your brain to this here.’

Mort looked down again at the tracery of lines. It was as if a spider had spun a web on the page, stopping at every junction to make notes. Mort stared until his eyes hurt, waiting for some spark of inspiration. None volunteered.

'Any luck?’

'It’s all Klatchian to me,’ said Mort. 'I don’t even know whether it should be read upside down or sideways.’

'Spiralling from the centre outwards,’ sniffed Ysabell from her seat in the corner.

Their heads collided as they both peered at the centre of the page. They stared at her. She shrugged.

'Father taught me how to read the node chart,’ she said, 'when I used to do my sewing in here. He used to read bits out.’

'You can help?’ said Mort.

'No,’ said Ysabell. She blew her nose.

'What do you mean, no?’ growled Albert. This is too important for any flighty —’

'I mean,’ said Ysabell, in razor tones, 'that I can do them and you can help.’

The Ankh-Morpork Guild of Merchants has taken to hiring large gangs of men with ears like fists and fists like large bags of walnuts whose job it is to re-educate those misguided people who publicly fail to recognise the many attractive points of their fine city. For example the philosopher Catroaster was found floating face downward in the river within hours of uttering the famous line, 'When a man is tired of Ankh-Morpork, he is tired of ankle-deep slurry.’

Therefore it is prudent to dwell on one – of the very many, of course – on one of the things that makes Ankh-Morpork renowned among the great cities of the multiverse.

This is its food.

The trade routes of half the Disc pass through the city or down its rather sluggish river. More than half the tribes and races of the Disc have representatives dwelling within its sprawling acres. In Ankh-Morpork the cuisines of the world collide: on the menu are one thousand types of vegetable, fifteen hundred cheeses, two thousand spices, three hundred types of meat, two hundred fowl, five hundred different kinds of fish, one hundred variations on the theme of pasta, seventy eggs of one kind or another, fifty insects, thirty molluscs, twenty assorted snakes and other reptiles, and something pale brown and warty known as the Klatchian migratory bog truffle.

Its eating establishments range from the opulent, where the portions are tiny but the plates are silver, to the secretive, where some of the Disc’s more exotic inhabitants are rumoured to eat anything they can get down their throat best out of three.

Harga’s House of Ribs down by the docks is probably not numbered among the city’s leading eateries, catering as it does for the type of beefy clientele that prefers quantity and breaks up the tables if it doesn’t get it. They don’t go in for the fancy or exotic, but stick to conventional food like flightless bird embryos, minced organs in intestine skins, slices of hog flesh and burnt ground grass seeds dipped in animal fats; or, as it is known in their patois, egg, soss and bacon and a fried slice.

It was the kind of eating house that didn’t need a menu. You just looked at Harga’s vest.

Still, he had to admit, this new cook seemed to be the business. Harga, an expansive advert for his own high carbohydrate merchandise, beamed at a room full of satisfied customers. And a fast worker, too! In fact, disconcertingly fast.

He rapped on the hatch.

'Double egg, chips, beans, and a trollburger, hold the onions,’ he rasped.

RIGHT.

The hatch slid up a few seconds later and two plates were pushed through. Harga shook his head in gratified amazement.

It had been like that all evening. The eggs were bright and shiny, the beans glistened like rubies, and the chips were the crisp golden brown of sunburned bodies on expensive beaches. Harga’s last cook had turned out chips like little paper bags full of pus.

Harga looked around the steamy cafe. No-one was watching him. He was going to get to the bottom of this. He rapped on the hatch again.

'Alligator sandwich,’ he said. 'And make it sna —’

The hatch shot up. After a few seconds to pluck up enough courage, Harga peered under the top slice of the long sarny in front of him. He wasn’t saying that it was alligator, and he wasn’t saying it wasn’t. He knuckled the hatch again.

'Okay,’ he said, I’m not complaining, I just want to know how you did it so fast.’

TIME IS NOT IMPORTANT.

'You say?’

RIGHT.

Harga decided not to argue.

'Well, you’re doing a damn fine job in there, boy,’ he said.

WHAT is IT CALLED WHEN YOU FEEL WARM AND CONTENT AND WISH THINGS WOULD STAY THAT WAY?

'I guess you’d call it happiness,’ said Harga.

Inside the tiny, cramped kitchen, strata’d with the grease of decades, Death spun and whirled, chopping, slicing and flying. His skillet flashed through the fetid steam.

He’d opened the door to the cold night air, and a dozen neighbourhood cats had strolled in, attracted by the bowls of milk and meat – some of Harga’s best, if he’d known – that had been strategically placed around the floor. Occassionally Death would pause in his work and scratch one of them behind the ears.

'Happiness,’ he said, and puzzled at the sound of his own voice.

Cutwell, the wizard and Royal Recogniser by appointment, pulled himself up the last of the tower steps and leaned against the wall, waiting for his heart to stop thumping.

Actually it wasn’t particularly high, this tower, just high for Sto Lat. In general design and outline it looked the standard sort of tower for imprisoning princesses in; it was mainly used to store old furniture.

However, it offered unsurpassed views of the city and the Sto plain, which is to say, you could see an awful lot of cabbages.

Cutwell made it as far as the crumbling crenel-lations atop the wall and looked out at the morning haze. It was, maybe, a little hazier than usual. If he tried hard he could imagine a flicker in the sky. If he really strained his imagination he could hear a buzzing out over the cabbage fields, a sound like someone frying locusts. He shivered.

At a time like this his hands automatically patted his pockets, and found nothing but half a bag of jelly babies, melted into a sticky mass, and an apple core. Neither offered much consolation.

What Cutwell wanted was what any normal wizard wanted at a time like this, which was a smoke. He’d have killed for a cigar, and would have gone as far as a flesh wound for a squashed dog-end. He pulled himself together. Resolution was good for the moral fibre; the only trouble was the fibre didn’t appreciate the sacrifices he was making for it. They said that a truly great wizard should be permanently under tension. You could have used Cutwell for a bowstring.

He turned his back on the brassica-ed landscape and made his way back down the winding steps to the main part of the palace.

Still, he told himself, the campaign appeared to be working. The population didn’t seem to be resisting the fact that there was going to be a coronation, although they weren’t exactly clear about who was going to be crowned. There was going to be bunting in the streets and Cutwell had arranged for the town square’s main fountain to run, if not with wine, then at least with an acceptable beer made from broccoli. There was going to be folk dancing, at sword point if necessary. There would be races for children. There would be an ox roast. The royal coach had been regilded and Cutwell was optimistic that people could be persuaded to notice it as it went by.

The High Priest at the Temple of Blind Io was going to be a problem. Cutwell had marked him down as a dear old soul whose expertise with the knife was so unreliable that half of the sacrifices got tired of waiting and wandered away. The last time he’d tried to sacrifice a goat it had time to give birth to twins before he could focus, and then the courage of motherhood had resulted in it chasing the entire priesthood out of the temple.

The chances of him succeeding in putting the crown on the right person even in normal circumstances were only average, Cutwell had calculated; he’d have to stand alongside the old boy and try tactfully to guide his shaking hands.

Still, even that wasn’t the big problem. The big problem was much bigger than that. The big problem had been sprung on him by the Chancellor after breakfast.

'Fireworks?’ Cutwell had said.

'That’s the sort of thing you wizard fellows are supposed to be good at, isn’t it?’ said the Chancellor, as crusty as a week-old loaf. 'Flashes and bangs and whatnot. I remember a wizard when I was a lad —’

'I’m afraid I don’t know anything about fireworks,’ said Cutwell, in tones designed to convey that he cherished this ignorance.

'Lots of rockets,’ the Chancellor reminisced happily. 'Ankhian candles. Thunderflashes. And thingies that you can hold in your hand. It’s not a proper coronation without fireworks.’

'Yes, but, you see —’

'Good man,’ said the Chancellor briskly, 'knew we could rely on you. Plenty of rockets, you understand, and to finish with there must be a set-piece, mind you, something really breathtaking like a portrait of – of —’ his eyes glazed over in a way that was becoming depressingly familiar to Cut-well.

'The Princess Keli,’ he said wearily.

'Ah. Yes. Her,’ said the Chancellor. 'A portrait of – who you said – in fireworks. Of course, it’s probably all pretty simple stuff to you wizards, but the people like it. Nothing like a good blowout and a blowup and a bit of balcony waving to keep the loyalty muscles in tip-top shape, that’s what I always say. See to it. Rockets. With runes on.’

@inhyelation.

AS MUCH FUN AS SOME THINGS CAN BE, hanbyul is no stranger to the desire to belong somewhere. though oftentimes a thought that’s pushed aside in favor of other things to occupy himself and his mind with, he would be foolish not to address the elephant standing in the room when it has been made so painfully obvious that there are always things left unspoken. so no, he’s not holding her sudden departure against her, nor is he mad when she gracefully manages to sneak back into his life as though she never left. lonely he may feel, yet it never takes away from the ability to comprehend that there’s more to another person than the love given to you so graciously and hyeri is just another puzzle in the game of life trying to figure herself out.

hanbyul supposes he understands well enough not to make things any harder for her. when she leaves, he decides to focus on himself for the time being; it’s alright, he knows she’ll be eventually back (she promises him so, and for once, he fools himself into believing the well-intentioned words spoken by another lost soul). hyeri, however, remains true to her word; time passes, seasons come and go, but she eventually comes back to the place where it all began. the thought fills his heart with warmth he hasn’t assumed himself to be capable of      and for once, he feels content without the desire to question what life has offered to him.

“where did you go? did you take photos? i wanna see ‘em, y’know.” the male knows he pushes a little too much sometimes, but if he doesn’t nobody will and that’s a thought he cannot bear; hyeri is overflowing with life and for selfish reasons, he wants to keep a bit of that light to himself. if only for a moment. if only for as long as she’ll allow him to.

“School,” I said, swallowing around a lump in my throat, “Friends, the lack thereof.”

“It’s not better?” he asked, carefully stepping around the elephant in the room, the bullies.

Those pesky elephants always gotta stand in the way of the TV.

I think it’s good that they’re talking about this, even if it’s only as an excuse and a diversion tactic.

If it was, I wouldn’t be having problems, would I? I just gave him a one shoulder shrug and forced myself to take another bite of french toast. My shoulder twinged a little as it made the bruises from last night felt.

I wonder if the Protectorate has an anonymity-friendly doctor’s/healer’s office for heroes. Either way, Taylor should probably get that shoulder looked at - these painful shrugs are getting frequent.

As much as I didn’t feel like eating, I knew my stomach would be growling at me before lunch if I didn’t. That was even without accounting for the energy I burned running, let alone the escapades of last night.

There’s a saying here in Norway that goes “Without food and drink, the hero isn’t good enough.”

…it sounds better in Norwegian, with a rhyme and a single word for “to be good enough”. Point is it specifically mentions “the hero”. Gotta eat, Taylor!

PROBOSCIDEANS

Whilst we all know that modern elephants are beautiful and remarkable creatures, few may be familiar with the order of which they are from, Proboscidea. Proboscidea not only contains the elephantids, but a whole range of diverse mammals, some reaching magnificent sizes and each one more intriguing than the last.

Deinotherium 

Deinotherium quite literally means “terrible beast” and they trawled the savannah-like Miocene landscape. Deinotheriums most striking feature is certainly its menacing downward facing tusks, a complete skull found in the nineteenth century measured at just under a metre in length, the skull also showed very deep nasal bones suggesting it had a much wider and shorter trunk than modern elephants. The reason for the unusual orientation of the tusks has been debated, perhaps they were purely for attracting mates or maybe they had a vital role in stripping tree bark to eat. Deinotherium was quite a bit larger than modern elephants standing a whopping 4 metres tall (almost as tall as a double decker bus) and weighing in at an estimate 11-14 tonnes.

Palaeoxodon namadicus 

Palaeoxodon namadicus, otherwise known as the Asian straight-tusked elephant lived during the pleistocene. Little is known about these species and whether it is a species on its own rather than a subspecies within Palaeoxodon antiquus, yet is is known from a thigh bone over 5 foot in length which indicates a possible height of over 4.5 metres which would make Palaeoxodon namadicus the largest land mammal to have ever existed surpassing Deinotherium and Paraceratherium.

Gompotherium 

Gompotherium is another highly unusual member of the proboscidea. Gompotherium stood around 3 metres high and had 4 tusks extending straight from its jaw, the two bottom tusks are flattened and shovel-shaped leading to suggesting that they were used in digging and finding food. Gompotherium is believed to be the first of the proboscideans to escape its homeland and migrate towards north america, mammoths would eventually evolve from the shovel-tusked creature. Although they are unfamiliar to most, they were very successful and flourished in north america for over 10 million years (during the miocene and pliocene). Their demise coincides with the rise of todays modern elephants, perhaps they were outcompeted to extinction.

Stegodon

Stegodon stood at around 3.5 metres tall and weighing in a 12 tonnes, however it is not this beasts size that is hard to comprehend, but its enormous tusks which could reach a whopping 3 metres in length. Stegodons thrived in the golden age of elephants 11 million years ago, exactly when they died out is a mystery, some believe they contained to roam across north america as little as a few thousand years ago.

Mammoths

Mammoths are amongst the most recognisable prehistoric creatures, they were extremely successful and thrived during the ice age thanks to their masses of fur, migration patterns and small ears. They died out around 4500 years ago when the ice age came to an end, although it is widely thought that humans contributed to their reduction in numbers as we fed on their meat, wore their fur and used their immense tusks and skin for shelter. The largest known species of mammoths could reach 4 metres in height and weigh up to 7 or 8 tonnes and they travelled in herds much like modern elephants. Incredibly well preserved specimens have been found across the world in peat bogs and permafrost preserving skin, hair and some organs in immaculate condition, this has led to multiple projects hoping to bring back the mammoth, although this is still highly controversial.

Elephants

All modern elephants are the only relic from the glorious evolutionary history of the proboscideans that we have left. They can reach 4 metres in height and weigh up 7 tonnes. Their tusks are used in competing for mates as well as for feeding and the trunks, perhaps the most recognisable feature of any animal, are analogous to human hands, they are used to grab things, communicate and sense their environment. Elephants travel in close herds led by a matriarch and have been shown to display emotions of grief when a valued member dies, their social structure is incredibly sophisticated and complex, when a matriarchs reign is over, their is a specific order of individuals to take her place, usually the eldest daughter. Separate families of elephants have even been known to form bonds with each other and socialise in passing.
Elephants have long been attractive to humans, their skin has been sold, their tusks highly valued for decoration and medicine. Elephants have been relentlessly hunted by humans, so much so that in in the twentieth century their numbers declined by 74% in ten years. Over the last few decades multiple conservation efforts have been put in place to save these magnificent creatures from extinction, their population numbers have shown slight increases since the efforts began.

The proboscideans have been, and are still, one of the most remarkable groups in the animal kingdom. They have been incredibly successful since their first appearance over 40 million years ago, with only the elephants remaining we must save these wonderful animals from extinction for future generations to see and to continue the reign of one of the most spectacular dynasties in the animal kingdom.

A Guide to Discworld

So you have decided to read Terry Pratchett’s Discworld. Congratulations, you are about to enter a wonderful fictional world with some of the most hilarious and endearing characters I have ever read. However it is a daunting task with 41 books in the main series and 6 sub-series within it. Maybe you have seen a useful diagram on the reading order or something similar. Just to help even more, here is my guide to Discworld:

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