Diaries and such

On Radio 4 today, they were talking about the editing process for John Fowles’ journals [you know, the guy who wrote The French Lieutenant’s Woman], and I found myself thinking “I’ve never managed to maintain a diary for more than a couple of days”. Which is an odd thing to say, when this blog has been existing since Oct 3rd 2004. But blogging ain’t the same. I’m writing for immediate consumption. Often, consumption by random googling strangers [Hiya, y’all!]. As such, this is a pretty impersonal space, even though I know that, with a bit of fairy dust [i.e. chatty, entertaining prose-style], some soul-baring could help attract traffic.

It’s an odd medium, really. Media coverage tends to concentrate on ways in which blogging competes with the traditional media – political opinion pieces, movie reviews and so on. That seems like a transitional phase, to me. The current bloggers’ term of ‘MSM’ (i.e. Main Stream Media) is equally a result of the newness of the situation – in a few years, a lot of bloggers will be mainstream and it will just be treated like another medium.

But blogging is just a medium, like TV or newspapers or books. What will be interesting is people finding new, different markets for words that would never be viable under the old model.

Top ten animals – #5, Oarfish

So, what’s the world’s biggest fish? That’s easy – it’s the Whale Shark. But what about the world’s longest fish? Well, that’s probably the Whale Shark too, to be honest – the trouble is, it’s a category that tends to attract a lot of over-excited and completely unconfirmable reports. But the other fish that has a claim to be the longest is a species of Oarfish, Regalecus glesne, sometimes called ‘King of Herrings’:

It’s certainly the longest bony fish in the world; i.e. it’s not a shark. As an evolutionary footnote, you are more closely related to the Oarfish than the Oarfish is related to the sharks. If you think about it, that has to be true, because all mammals and bony fish are descended from some first ancestral bony fish, whereas sharks (which have cartilaginous skeletons) are not. The heaviest bony fish is the Sunfish, Mola mola. All giant fish species – the big sharks, the sunfish, and others like the Manta Ray – would be great to see. But the Oarfish really caught my imagination when I learnt about them as a kid, and I’d still love to see one – preferably a big one. How big? Well, they’ve been reliably measured to about 12m (40′), apparently, but reported up to lengths of 17m – 56′. That’s the height of a 5 storey building. Height is the right word here because, as you can see above, they have a very peculiar posture when feeding. Here’s some Navy Seals with a 24′ specimen: