Since I started playing with make-up, the most common comment I’ve had from friends and family is ‘You’re wearing make-up!’, uttered in an astonished tone and usually accompanied by a bemused frown.
This is entirely understandable. For years, I’ve eschewed make-up, other than a bit of lipstick on work days. Mascara if I’m feeling up to it.
So, when I say, as nonchalantly as I can, ‘Yes, I am’, the question that usually follows is not unexpected: ‘Is it a special occasion?’. However, I have been surprised by the frequency of quite a different comment: ‘You should wear make-up more often’.
This little fellow is a bearcat, or binturong. He is, in fact, neither bear nor cat, but is instead a member of the viverridae family (which we know mostly as civets & genets).
Shy, slow and shaggy, bearcats can be aggressive when threatened. They are one of only two carnivores with a prehensile tail, which is nearly as long as their bodies (which are usually two to three feet long). For a carnivore, they are surprisingly omnivorous, and their diet in the wild leans towards fruits, shoots and leaves.
Bearcats are native to Southeast Asia, but as arboreal forest-dwellers, they are increasingly at risk due to habitat loss and degradation through logging and conversion. They are also extensively trapped for the Asian pet, food and fur trade.
They also smell like buttered popcorn. Truly. Recent research has shown that their urine contains the same molecule that forms when corn is popped. Added to their little cat faces, flat-footed bear-like amble and general chattiness, their scent makes them nigh on irresistible.
Over the last few weeks, there has been a lot of yelling on social media about free speech. It seems that “free speech” has become the defense du jour against criticism for speech which is offensive, bigoted or prejudiced.
Adapting a line from a favourite film: “You keep using that phrase. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
Freedom of speech is actually quite a tricky issue in Australia. I might eventually get around to doing a proper post on the subject, but for now, I’ll just outline the basics. Continue reading →