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Posts Tagged ‘Philip Pullman’

Happy Birthday, Philip Pullman

Posted by Laurie Frost on October 19, 2010

October 19 is novelist Philip Pullman’s birthday. I started looking for public domain images on the internet when I was compiling a guide to his trilogy, His Dark Materials. So today I’ve decided to indulge myself and return to have a look at some of these.

The characters in His Dark Materials move between worlds. One of them is ours, and one, the setting of the first novel, Northern Lights in the UK and The Golden Compass in the US, is a lot like ours, but has a number of intriguing differences. One is that the soul or conscience, the essence that distinguishes humans, called a dæmon, is externalized in the form of an animal. In childhood a person’s dæmon can change forms, but once puberty is reached, it settles in one species’ form.

In the course of the story, the main character, Lyra, matures into a young woman. As a child, one of her dæmon Pantalaimon’s favorite forms was that of a pine marten, and that is what Pan settles as. Here, courtesy of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, is a delightful image of a pine marten.

 Pine Marten. By Erwin and Peggy Bauer. FWS

Another wonderful dæmon is Hester, whose person is Lee Scoresby, a brave and compassionate aëronaut. Hester settled as a hare, and this jackrabbit at Yellowstone National Park reminded me of her. 


 Jackrabbit. By W.L. Miller for the National Park Service

In Lyra’s world, history has taken a different route as well, but some of the peoples, if not nations, are the same as in ours. Lyra’s father tells her he’ll bring her back a carved walrus tusk from his travels to the Arctic, and one of the windows connecting her world to ours is not far from Nunivak, Alaska. So I was pleased to find this image in the Library of Congress:

The ivory carver--Nunivak

The ivory carver–Nunivak by Edward Curtis, 1929. LC-USZ62-74131

A turquoise ring of his mother’s  is important to Lee Scoresby and Stanislaus Grumman, who in our world was an explorer but when he accidentally found himself in Lyra’s took instruction from a Siberian shaman.

Navajo silversmith

  Navajo silversmith by William J. Carpenter, 1915. LC-USZ62-99580

 Goldi shaman priest and assistant

Goldi shaman priest and assistant by William Henry Jackson, 1895.  LC-USZC2-6391

Posted in Exploration, Fish and Wildlife Service, Historical, Library of Congress, National Park Service, People, Places | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Polar Bears and Blue Angels, Submarines and Ships of the US Navy

Posted by Laurie Frost on June 1, 2009

Polar bears attract my attention these days since I am a big fan of Iorek Byrnison, king of the armoured bears of Svalbard, and one of the few admirable adults in Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials and Once Upon a Time in the North. Now, armoured bears aren’t polar bears — after all, they wear armour and talk, for starters — but in our world polar bears resemble them in a few ways: both are left-handed and both are formidable and intimidating, in or out of armour.

I was hastily scrolling through one of those Fwd: Fwd: Fwd: emails of unusual pictures, when I stopped at  an image of a polar bear and what was identified as a — submarine!



No link was given, but submarines were mentioned, so I quickly found my way to the source, a photo gallery at the US Navy website. On its “About this site” page, you’ll find:

The purpose of this website is to provide information and news about the United States Navy to the general public. All information on this site is considered public information and may be distributed or copied unless otherwise specified. Use of appropriate byline/photo/image credits is requested.

I’ve collected credits at the bottom of the post.

The photos in the gallery are well-captioned. For example, this one is about the polar bears:

Arctic Circle (Oct. 2003) — Three Polar bears approach the starboard bow of the Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine USS Honolulu (SSN 718) while surfaced 280 miles from the North Pole. Sighted by a lookout from the bridge (sail) of the submarine, the bears investigated the boat for almost 2 hours before leaving. Commanded by Cmdr. Charles Harris, USS Honolulu while conducting otherwise classified operations in the Arctic, collected scientific data and water samples for U.S. and Canadian Universities as part of an agreement with the Artic Submarine Laboratory (ASL) and the National Science Foundation (NSF). USS Honolulu is the 24th Los Angeles-class submarine, and the first original design in her class to visit the North Pole region. Honolulu is as assigned to Commander Submarine Pacific, Submarine Squadron Three, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. U. S. Navy photo by Chief Yeoman Alphonso Braggs. (RELEASED)

And don’t you like too how the photographer is mentioned by name?

This incident wasn’t the first visit by polar bears to a submarine.



Near the North Pole (Apr. 27, 2003) — During Exercise ICEX 2003, the Seawolf-class attack submarine USS Connecticut (SSN 22) surfaced and broke through the ice. This polar bear, attracted by the hole which can be used to find food, was seen through the sub’s periscope and these photos were captured as the image was projected on a flat-panel display. After investigating the Connecticut for approximately 40 minutes, the bear left the area, with no damage to the sub or to the bear. U.S. Navy photo by Mark Barnoff. (RELEASED)

While at the site I decided to have a look around. Here are some examples of what I found, although they are not truly representative. As you might guess, most are of Navy ships, helicopters, and other vessels. But there are hundreds of others among the several thousand public domain images.

Hornet strike fighters from precision formation Blue Angels squadron at a performance in Virginia Beach:











These three are part of a series of photographs documenting a rescue at sea:

ATLANTIC OCEAN (Nov. 12, 2008) Aviation Warfare Systems Operator 2nd Class Zachary Gillespie and Aviation Warfare Systems Operator 3rd Class Phillip Gonzales both assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 28, Detachment 5 embarked aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3), hoista Norwegian man from the ocean-going tug SVC Tanux II during a searchand rescue medical evacuation. Kearsarge launched a search-and-rescue aircraft in response toan emergency medical distress call. The victim was transported to Guyana for further medical evaluation. Kearsarge is supporting the Caribbean Phase of the humanitarian and civic assistance mission Continuing Promise 2008, an equal partnership mission between the United States, Canada, the Netherlands, Brazil, Nicaragua, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Erik Barker/Released)







Finally, some ships:

Landing craft air cushion vehicle in Djibouti, April 2009; and the Arleigh Burke class guided-missile destroyer USS Gridley (DDG 101), MS-60S Sea Hawk helicopter, and the Military Sealift Command fast combat support ship USNS Bridge in the Indian Ocean, 2008.



Credits — all US Navy

3 bears: 031000-N-XXXXB-001; standing bear: 031000N-XXXXB-003; b&w bear: 031000N-XXXXB-002. Photographer: Chief Yeoman Alphonso Braggs.

b&w standing bear: 030427-O-0000B-001.jpg, 030427-O-0000B-001.jpg. Photographer: Mark Barnoff.

Blue Angels: 080920-N-5345W-196. 080920-N-5345W-197.jpg Photographer: Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kristopher S. Wilson.

Rescue: 081112-N-9620B-010, 081112-N-9620B-0112, 081112-N-9620B-013. Photographer: Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Erik Barker.

Landing Craft: 090401-N-0506A 559. Photographer: Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jesse B. Awalt.

Destroyer: 080823-N-1635S-002. Photographer: Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Joshua Scott.

Posted in Animals, People, Places, US Navy | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments »