Hello Spidey

Life is short;
You must spin
A web of wonder
For the whole world to see

This guest was waiting for me when I arrived home the other day. It had made a web for itself near my washing line. Glad I didn’t walk into it.

It’s an Argiope keyserlingi, or a St Andrew’s Cross spider. They’re known for the distinctive decorations on their webs, usually a zig-zag pattern forming an X in the middle of the web.

The pattern, or stabilimentum, is thought to be a warning to birds and similar predators to stay away. It also attracts insects as it reflects ultra-violet light.

It’s one of the prettier spiders I’ve seen. And its bite is mostly harmless and non toxic to humans too which is good to know.


Photos and haiqua © CJ Levinson 2015

Dusk on the Lake

Dusk on the Lake

I was in Belmont for a few days last week and went for a nice walk along the lake a couple of evenings ago. The sun had almost finished setting and there was a beautiful dusk light that was perfect for photos.

I was deliberately trying to play with silhouettes and patterns with the photos. My goal was to try and keep them as minimalist as possible and let mother nature speak for herself.

Dusk on the Lake

Dusk on the lake

Dusk on the Lake

A hungry pelicanDusk on the Lake

Colourful reflections, dark silhouettesDusk on the Lake

Alone on the water

Dusk on the Lake

Seagulls near the shore

Dusk on the Lake

Water lapping over the rocks

Dusk on the Lake

Blue waters

Dusk on the Lake

Rocks near the shore

Dusk on the Lake

The dying light

Dusk on the Lake

Water, waves and metal

Dusk on the Lake

Through the bars

Photos © CJ Levinson 2015

It’s So Hot…

We had an absolute scorcher today. It reached 41’C near where I live in Newcastle and it was even hotter in Sydney today apparently. Scary thing is it’s not even officially summer yet.

It was so hot that everyone was talking about it and I thought I’d have some fun with it on Facebook and Twitter, so I started posting some memes. People seemed to like them so I thought I’d post them here too, with some extras.

Hope you like them. What’s your favourite it’s so hot/it’s hotter than joke? ;)

  • 39’C at the moment. And still climbing. Yowsers. It’s #HotterThan the hottest day in Hell’s hottest hotel.
  • It’s #HotterThan Smaug’s breath roasting dwarves and hobbits.
  • It’s #HotterThan bacon in a frying pan
  • It’s #SoHot I think I just saw two trees fighting over a dog
  • It’s #SoHot ice creams are melting before they’ve been opened
  • It’s #SoHot all the sprinklers have gone on strike
  • It’s #HotterThan Justin Trudeau
  • It’s #HotterThan two cheerleaders at a beach volleyball game
  • It’s #HotterThan tickets to the new Star Wars premiere
  • It’s #SoHot hens are laying hard boiled eggs
  • It’s #SoHot Olaf is just a puddle #LetItGo
  • It’s #SoHot bread is turning into toast
  • It’s #HotterThan the hottest vindaloo
  • It’s #HotterThan a taco with hot sauce
  • It’s #HotterThan Kevin Rudd’s temper
  • It’s #SoHot Donald Trump’s hair is sitting flat
  • It’s #SoHot Tony Abbott’s started to believe in climate change
  • It’s #SoHot the Transformers are turning into refrigerators
  • It’s #HotterThan a Jawa on Tatooine
  • It’s #HotterThan Rick’s haircut in The Walking Dead #YepIWentThere
  • It’s #HotterThan a firework on New Year’s Eve
  • It’s #SoHot the cat wants to use the pool
  • It’s #SoHot both taps are running hot water
  • It’s #SoHot the Sahara desert wants to sue for defamation
  • It’s #HotterThan a Vulcan going through pon farr
  • It’s #HotterThan getting stuck in a pair of skinny jeans
  • It’s #HotterThan the back of my mobile phone
  • It’s #SoHot Ben Carson is almost making sense
  • It’s #SoHot dogs are turning into hot dogs
  • It’s #SoHot all the hipsters are shaving off their beards #ExceptMe
  • It’s #HotterThan an egg frying on the sidewalk
  • It’s #HotterThan the thermostat will even show
  • It’s #HotterThan Green Arrow’s chilli recipe, the one only Batman can eat
  • It’s #SoHot Jon Snow has stopped thinking winter is coming (and also, Jon Snow? So not dead) #NeverGiveUp
  • It’s #SoHot even the flies are exhausted
  • It’s #SoHot my face burned before I’d even left the house
  • It’s #HotterThan Adele’s latest album
  • It’s #HotterThan Scarlett Johansson in The Avengers
  • Actually I take that back. Nothing is #HotterThan Scarlett Johansson in The Avengers #SorryScarlett
  • It’s #SoHot I can’t remember anything… what was I saying again?
  • It’s #SoHot my mirages are having mirages
  • It’s #SoHot I think I’ve started to crack up… #TooLate

Some thoughts on extremism

I posted this on Twitter and Facebook last night in the wake of the Paris attacks and thought I’d post it here as well for posterity and to share some additional thoughts.

Like everyone I was shocked and appalled by the attacks and my heart goes out to everyone in Paris and France.

But as the hours went by, I started seeing a lot of posts and comments blaming muslims and all of Islam for the attacks. As well as how muslims needed to convert to “the Christian god” so we could have peace.

I guess I lost it but I am sick and tired of hearing how Islam is a religion of hate and it’s “us vs. them”. It’s a bigoted worldview and it’s not only ignorant and wrong but it is dangerous as well.

ISIL and similar groups want us to be divided and to turn on moderate Islam; it’s one of the goals listed in their own publication – to eliminate the “grayzone” as they call it, the zone of coexistence we share and have everyone live in a black and white world which makes it easier for them to spread their ambitions through the Levant and beyond.

Everyone who lumps all of Islam together with ISIL and their ilk is doing their work for them and helping to create more recruits and likely more attacks like we just saw in Paris.

There are 1.2 billion muslims in the world and the vast, vast majority of them are peaceful and moderate and just want to live their lives; it is unfair to place them all together and it is beyond reality to expect that over one billion people should be held responsible for the acts and beliefs of radicalized extremists.

Our struggle is with extremism, all extremism; the scenario should never be framed as “the West vs. Islam” or “us vs. them” but rather “moderates against extremism”. Wherever it strikes and whomever it oppresses in the world.

If you can’t see that, nor how all religions have struggled and continue to struggle with extremism (from the KKK, to The Army of God, to Eastern Lightning in just the recent past alone), then I would suggest that the problem is with you, not with Islam.

And if you seriously believe the only solution to this whole situation is for one group of people to convert to another religion, then I would suggest as well that you have more in common with ISIL than most muslims ever will.


I’m seeing a lot of posts and comments on Facebook and Twitter at the moment blaming muslims for the attacks in Paris.

Some are even asking for people to pray that all muslims “convert to the Christian god” as that is the only way “we can have peace”.

Others, more understandably, want to send ground troops to take care of IS.

I feel like I need to say a few things as seeing all this pop up again and again is driving me nuts.

    1. The vast majority of Islam is moderate and peaceful. The people responsible for these attacks are ideological extremists. They are a perversion of Islam, not a true representation of it. It is wrong and ignorant to blame all muslims for their actions.

    2. Every religion struggles with extremism. Please remember Christianity’s past history with the Crusades, the Inquisition and the KKK before passing judgment on all of Islam.

    3. #PrayForParis means we are thinking of and stand with the people of France. It does NOT mean pray for muslims to convert to “the Christian god”. How dare you use a tragedy in such a way?

    4. Judaism, Christianity and Islam all share one common link: Abraham and, by extension, Abraham’s god. It is likely you actually already believe in the same god.

    5. This is a “war” that will likely last generations and it cannot be won through military force alone. The only way to defeat extremism is to change people’s perceptions over time by engaging with community leaders and tackling issues like poverty and youth dissatisfaction. ISIL and other threats need to be confronted as well but without tackling the root causes of terrorism, the cycle will never end. And that may take decades.

    6. ISIL and other groups want us to turn on our communities, to make it the West vs Islam. They want young muslims to feel persecuted as it drives them straight into their arms. Turning on each other only makes ISIL stronger.

    7. In the end our global response to tragedies like this sends a message and it’s up to us what we want it to say. Do we really want to blame Islam? Or do we want to show that we stand united and unbowed as moderates against extremism? The choice is ours. I know which I’d prefer.