Calvin and Hobbes


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Watterson’s ideas on education take the stage.

Calvin and Hobbes was a newspaper comic written and illustrated by American cartoonist Bill Watterson between 1985 and 1995.

Within a year of its first publication, Calvin and Hobbes was featured in approximately 250 newspapers all over the world. The 3,160th and final comic was published on December 31, 1995. Watterson is said to have quit the comic shortly after animators showed great interest in it. Although Watterson considered the idea, he later came around saying he liked the fact that his work was a “low-tech, one-man operation”, and took great pride in the fact that he drew every line and wrote every word on his own.

The comic revolves around the life of six-year-old Calvin and his tiger friend, Hobbes, who is a regular stuffed animal to everyone but Calvin. Calvin and Hobbes are named after John Calvin, 16th century Reformationist, and Thomas Hobbes, 17th century philosopher, respectively.

Calvin feels the world revolves around him. Although being quite bright, demonstrating a level of vocabulary and humour unusual for a six-year-old, he regularly shows lapses of common sense and consequently gets into trouble because of this. Calvin is also creative and imaginative – this is shown for instance through his gruesome snow sculptures depicting snowmen with several heads (or none at all) pierced with branches or being brutally murdered by other snowmen, and through his colourful set of alter egos (Stupendous Man, Spaceman Spiff and Tracer Bullet) and inventions (the Transmogrifier, the Duplicator and the Time Machine).

In many ways Calvin is as childlike as any other six-year-old boy; he is afraid of his babysitter, disobeys his parents and detests school. But with his stuffed tiger friend, Calvin often discusses philosophical issues. Together they embark on imaginary adventures, plot practical jokes (mainly against girls), and try to solve the various problems they (truthfully, Calvin) encounter.

Hobbes, visible as a full-sized talking (albeit cartoonish) tiger only to Calvin, operates as a counterpart to Calvin’s impulsive, rude and childish behaviour. He is the sardonic voice of reason in Calvin’s life, pointing out his hypocrisies and stupidities, but despite his rationality often refrains from interfering in any of Calvin’s dangerous ventures. Although Hobbes isn’t real, the consequences of his interactions with Calvin are sometimes visible by the secondary characters in the comic, for instance when he helps Calvin escape a Houdini-like tie-up, causing bewilderment on his father’s part.

Calvin and Hobbes is unique is many ways, from addressing social issues to the occasional tribute to Lichtenstein-like artwork or Biblical tales of creation and from themes of love, friendship, parenting and innocence to bringing a whole lot of thirty-something men (and hopefully women alike) back to a time when yelling KAZAM to your parents, arms outstretched, would turn them into aliens.

Ladybird


Ladybirds or Coccinellidae are named after Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus, the name deriving from Our Lady’s bird.

Madonna of humility by Fra Angelico

Mary was often depicted wearing a red cloak, and the seven spots on the Coccinellida septempunctata species symbolized her seven joys and seven sorrows.

In Dutch and in French, a ladybird is called lieveheersbeestje and bête à bon Dieu respectively, both meaning Our Lord’s animal.

People from a certain area in the eastern part of The Netherlands called Twente call the insect mariabeestje, and the Germans call them Marienkäfer (both meaning Mary beetle or Mary-chafer). The Irish Gaelic name bóín Dé translates into God’s little cow.

Before Christianity starting spreading across Europe, ladybirds were called freyafugle in Old Norse, meaning Freya’s bird. Freya means lady, and the goddess Freya was associated with love, beauty and fertility but also with war and death. She was considered the most beautiful goddess of all.

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Lullaby [Noun.]


Asoothing song sung to send a child to sleep.

The first part of the word, lull, is an onomatopoeic word, meaning that it imitates the source of the sound that it describes. It refers to a certain sound uttered when soothing a child, just as lala refers to singing a song. In Swedish, the word lulla means ‘to hum a lullaby’, and in Sanskrit, the word lolati means ‘to rock’. In Middle Dutch, the word lollen meant ‘to mutter’.

The origin of the second part of the word is still uncertain. It could simply be a preposition – to lull by – but it could also be derived from bye-bye, a common phrase in lullabies.

Funeral Blues


He was my North, my South, my East and West
My working week and my Sunday rest
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song
I thought that love would last forever – I was wrong

The stars are not wanted now; put out every one
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood
For nothing now can ever come to any good

– W. H. Auden

Nautilus


The nautilus is a member of the Mollusca phylum, Cephalopoda class, Nautiloidea subclass, Nautilida order, Nautilaceae superfamily and Nautilidae family. It is the only genus in the Nautiloidea subclass and subsequent classifications that still exists, and the genus contains six species of nautilus. The one most often being referred to when speaking of a nautilus is the Nautilus pompilius. The nautilus have remained relatively unchanged for millions of years and are often considered living fossils.

Being a cephalopod, the nautilus has a bilateral body symmetry and tentacles. It is the only living species of cephalopod to have an exoskeleton in the form of a shell. These are characterised by being smooth, slightly oval-shaped and containing sections called camerae, divided by little ‘walls’ called septa (like the division between human nostrils) which are punctured by a duct in the middle, called siphuncles. As the nautilus ages, it creates new camerae, which form a logarithmic spiral in the shell. In order to swim and adjust its buoyancy, the nautilus draws water and gas into and out of the camerae. The shell is marked with dark irregular stripes on the top and is plain white on the bottom, which helps the nautilus blend in to the dark water when viewed from the top, and in to the light of the sun when viewed from below.

The nautilus’ approximately ninety tentacles lack pads, but are able to stick quite powerfully to surfaces and prey by means of a ridged surface. Attempts to take away an object held by a nautilus might even result in tearing away its tentacles. Two pairs of tentacles are different from the others in that they are more elaborately grooved and serve an olfactory purpose, which means the nautilus uses them to smell. Unlike other cephalopods, a nautilus’ vision is not that good, as the albeit highly developed eye structure lacks a solid lens. In addition, the nautilus has four tentacles used to transfer sperm into the female during mating.

Nautiluses are predators that feed on small fish, shrimp and other crustaceans. Due to the limited energy they used up during swimming, the nautilus only eats about once a month. Nautiluses can be found in the Indo-Pacific and mainly inhabit the deep slopes of coral reefs.