Friday, February 21, 2014

Fish for Friday

By Morris Dean

Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

Is it any surprise that "In Black Men, Internalized Racism Speeds Up Aging"? Excerpt:
Racism is a powerful enough force that it can wear down a man’s body. Those are the findings, at once common-sense and groundbreaking, in a study led by University of Maryland epidemiologist David Chae which examines the relationship between white blood cell telomere lengths and experiences with racism.
   The study, “Discrimination, Racial Bias, and Telomere Length in African-American Men,” to be published in the February 2014 issue of the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, is the first of its kind to explicitly measure the role that racism-related factors play in the aging process.

Some science fiction writers on Black History Month

Why is the Folk Alliance promoting Al Gore at its first annual Folk Alliance International Conference in Kansas City? Al Gore seems to be "The Anti-Pete Seeger." Excerpt:
In October 2000 with the Presidential election between Al Gore and Shrub Bush running neck and neck and a third candidate, Ralph Nader, running on the Green ticket while receiving substantial support and also receiving vicious jibes and threats from loyalist Gore supporters, I attended a dinner party of about a dozen at Harold and Natalie Leventhal’s Riverside Drive apartment. Early in the evening, we were each asked to state our preference in the upcoming presidential campaign. It got to Pete about halfway through. He talked about how he had been doing this a long time, and about his thoughts on splinter political parties. To him three choices was not enough. He said, if I remember the number right, that what was really needed was about eighteen different parties: A party for the vegans and a party for the pacifists and a party for….I don’t know, he might even have said a party for the fascists. (I don’t think so.) What he meant was, I know myself well enough that nobody can bully me.
    And then he said: “I’m voting for Ralph Nader.”

Toward the accomplishment of your plan to set the stage so that your reader will complete your thought: "Kurt Vonnegut Diagrams the Shape of All Stories in a Master’s Thesis Rejected by U. Chicago." Excerpt:
The elegant simplicity and playfulness of Vonnegut’s idea is exactly its enduring appeal. The idea is so simple, in fact, that Vonnegut sums the whole thing up in one elegant sentence: “The fundamental idea is that stories have shapes which can be drawn on graph paper, and that the shape of a given society’s stories is at least as interesting as the shape of its pots or spearheads.” In 2011, we featured the video below of Vonnegut explaining his theory, “The Shapes of Stories”:

Now it's the Hindus whose religious feelings are hurt."Publisher Blames Indian Law for Hindu Book Removal." Excerpt:
Penguin India publishing house said Friday that "intolerant and restrictive" Indian laws forced it to remove a book from sale after it tried to defend an American author's religious history against objections from a conservative Hindu group.
    The publisher's decision this week to pull and pulp all copies of historian Wendy Doniger's The Hindus: An Alternative History shocked writers and intellectuals in India, with some worrying it was a sign of rising intolerance against dissent in the country.
    Doniger defended Penguin India in a statement, saying the publisher had battled for four years against a lawsuit filed by the Hindu group Shiksha Bachao Andolan Samiti, or the Save Education Movement. The group objected to the book's describing mythological texts as fictional and, thus, hurting "the religious feelings of millions of Hindus," according to the lawsuit which also named Doniger and the New York-based arm Penguin Group Inc. as defendants.

I don't think your review of Questioning Darwin is too strong. We have reached a point in the "discussion" between Fundamentalists and those who practice 'liberal tolerance" (as Herbert Marcuse called it) where "speaking truth to power" needs strong language (as Frederick Douglass put it).
    Have a look at P.Z. Myers's comments on Bill Nye and Ken Ham's February 4 debate at the Creation Museum ["Nye/Ham postmortem: the apologists for religion"] to see a really sharp tongue in action. Creationists fear and hate him, even more than they hate Richard Dawkins or Bill Nye, because he never gives an inch and expresses himself clearly and cogently with humor. Excerpt from P.Z. Myers:

We understand the forces that drive evolution. We have our equations and measurements and collected observations, too, and nowhere in them do we have a god fudge-factor. Yet somehow, some engineers and physicists (and it’s almost always engineers and physicists; did you notice the background of the "experts" Ken Ham flaunted in little video segments during the debate?) are perfectly happy to wave away the knowledge of biologists and declare, well say there, evolution takes no stand on the existence of gods, and is perfectly compatible with religious explanations … despite the fact that virtually every religion on the planet makes clear claims about the origin of biological organisms, and that virtually every religious person squawks in complaint when a biologist explains the actual processes and mechanisms that drive evolutionary change. Which never seem to involve a super-man nudging nucleotides or making organs out of mud. And also are so chance-driven that you can’t even argue that it was a process begun in a Big Bang that ineluctably led to us.

Hairy facts about the Human Body:
    The fastest growing nail is on the middle finger.
    Facial hair grows faster than any other hair on the body. This is true for men as well as women.
    There are as many hairs per square inch on your body as a chimpanzee.
    A human baby acquires fingerprints at the age of three months.
    By the age of 60, most people will have lost about half their taste buds.

The little squirrel that got away

Limerick of the Week:
My friend, that deed you asked? Of course! Glad to,
whatever you want, I'll be sure to do.
    Something else at all?—
    just write me or call,
you know that I'll do anything for you.
Copyright © 2014 by Morris Dean

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  1. Replies
    1. Why would you say that? <grin> Was it the video of the brave and lucky squirrel?

  2. Don't get picky---be happy somebody read it and commented.[smile]

  3. That video of the hawk and the squirrel is incredible! Drama, intrigue, suspense, cliffhanger ending - and all in a few minutes instead of having to sit through a movie with a few minutes of action and two hours of filler. Years ago I lived in a cabin by a small lake in a nature preserve in the Blue Ridge mountains of Virginia, and every winter a goshawk spent the winter strafing squirrels as they fled through the trees. I never managed to take one decent photo of the action; for someone to make an entire video of such is just simply amazing!

    1. As someone commented in the thread of emails that brought that to me, "HOW did they do that!?"
          I suspect that clips from several incidents, and possibly involving more than one hawk and more than one squirrel, were edited together.
          If anyone of us learns "the secret," let's share it with the rest of us.

  4. Taking that a step further, I would guess the videographer worked with someone who was a falconer, and they probably shot hours of video with the trained hawk making several attempts at different squirrels.

    The little "inside" information on such comes from when I used to sell photos to a wide array of game and fish magazines. Our specialty for a couple of years was photographing various dogs "pointing" quail, pheasant and other game birds that were only four or five feet from the dogs' noses. People marveled at the photos and a couple of them won national awards. Fortunately no one asked exactly how we captured the images. The secret was having my assistant lie down in a field in a perfect photo setting and hold a captive bird by its feet while we carefully camouflaged his arm. The handler then brought in a dog, had it point on cue, and we had our image.

    That said, the video is much more amazing because of all the moving pieces - and I don't think there was a camouflaged arm holding the hawk or squirrel in any of the footage.

    1. THANK YOU for the additional insight! Fascinating!