Friday, July 25, 2014

Fish for Friday

Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

To understand the influx of children from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, it helps to understand U.S. military, trade, and drug policies. News stories say the children are fleeing violence. What made those countries violent? The answers are complex, but we could start with the 1954 CIA-engineered coup of a democratically elected government in Guatemala. The dictatorship that followed received continued U.S. military funding even after it turned genocidal force against the rural Mayan population in the 1980s...."Our collective complicity."

And to think this idiot might actually be elected: "Arizona politician mistakes campers for migrant children: report." In his defense, if you were a kid on a YMCA bus approaching a bunch of screaming nitwits, you might be sad and have a look of fear on your face.

I want to keep you informed on this US Navy sonar issue, and to suggest another small action that can make a big difference:
    When the Navy applied for permits to expand its sonar and explosives training on its California range, the California Coastal Commission said "No" - because of the harm these exercises would cause to whales, dolphins and other marine life. You were there in spirit, cheering the Coastal Commission on with your petition to stop the sonar exercises, and your generous followup "Thank You" note to the Commission for their monumentally important decision to intervene.
    But the Navy steamrolled California and said it would do what it wanted and conduct sonar trainings in whale habitats anyway!
    I'm writing to ask you to join me in urging the California Attorney General to take the Navy to court to comply with federal and state conservation laws that protect whales and dolphins. The US Navy is not above the law!

I need some cheerful silly posts, please!! Just read one too many sad animal mistreatment posts. Who the $&%# throws a kitten out of a moving car?!? Feeling sad.

In 1964, I was a phone operator in North Hollywood, and had gone to Long Beach with some of the other employees. Around 2:00 a.m. I distinctly heard my mother calling my name.
    I called home, woke my dad, who was not happy about the call, and told him to check mother. He protested, but I insisted he see if she was all right. I heard him trying to wake her then the phone hit the floor.
    It turned out he called an ambulance to take her to the hospital. It saved her life.
    Yes I am working up to something...Usually I go to sleep around 1:00 a.m. and wake up between 8 and 9 a.m. Last night I took a sleeping pill, a prescription one for the first time, yet I woke up at 5:00 a.m. and stayed awake. My niece called a litle while later to tell me that my mother had passed away at 2:00 a.m. West Coast time (5:00 a.m. my time).
    Human brains hold such unknown power. We somehow connect with those persons who are closest to us. As a teenager, I would pick up the phone before it rang and ask mother what she wanted. She would freak out and hang up.
    Trying to hold it together. Thanks for letting me ramble.

Aren't we all fascinating? What happens to us, how we connect it, what we believe....
    I myself, as I sat at my somewhat-dementia-addled mother's dining table, managing bills with her in her condo shortly after the death of her husband, wondered "where the Sam Hill is that checkbook/bill/whatever?" And my dear stepfather's voice clearly rang out in my head, "Right behind you in the buffet drawer, like I showed you!"     Psychic transmissions? Or things that are in our heads and keep us awake? Don't decide which, just smile and acknowledge the feelings of love and loss.

Why is it that when bankers and stock brokers use their brains to create investment scams that ruin peoples lives, they get rich; but when others try to use their "talent" in a way that no doubt makes some people really happy, they go to jail? "Twin Sisters, 19, Arrested In North Carolina For Prostitution." And all of us locals thought Raleigh in general, and La Quinta Inn in particular, never offered any excitement....

Every two minutes, we take more pictures than all of humanity in the 19th century.
    A thousand seconds is about 16 minutes.
    A million seconds is about 11 days.
    A billion seconds is about 32 years.
    And one trillion seconds is about 32,000 years. A trillion is a lot.
    But the good news is: Honey never spoils. You can eat 32,000-year-old honey.

You know by my response to your having forwarded to me a link to "The American Century is Over: How Our Country Went Down in A Blaze of Shame" that I, too, have harbored pessimistic and disturbing thoughts about our country and, indeed, the whole world of humankind. I realize that these thoughts are certainly not unique in the history of the republic nor in the heads of people who have reached our age. Yet, I tell myself, there seems to be so much more fodder to feed these conclusions now than at other times. And then my August issue of Harper's magazine arrived in the mail and, having read it through, I was reminded that mass stupidity and mass disaster are part of the cultural make up of what we call civilization. Or, as our friend Jim has so wisely observed, the primitive parts of our evolutionary ancestry sometimes prevail in their struggle with the prefrontal cortex.
    One of the articles I found of interest touched on the problem of human emotionality when it starts moving toward utter social destruction, Frederic Morton's "Seductive Catastrophe: Why the World Went to War in 1914." Morton himself acknowledges that many national stupidities contributed to the enormous self destruction that occurred, but still lays important blame on the human need to identify with causes and, by definition, the people involved with them no matter how different they might be from ourselves in a different context.

For all you history buffs, this Israel/Arab conflict in the middle east begin thousands of years ago between Abraham’s two sons, Isaac and Ishmael. [Genesis Chap. 21]

Now this is refreshing, a talking head TV news reporter actually quitting over ethics. No, of course it didn't happen here in the U.S. ["'Every single day we're lying': Russia Today reporter resigns over coverage of Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash"], but imagine what it would have been like if every reporter who knew they were being lied to about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq had quit. Or if those who know they are being lied to about NSA surveillance of American citizens quit. Or can you even imagine an American news program built around actually reporting facts?

"People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances with our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive...Experience of life. The mind has to do with meaning. What’s the meaning of a flower?...There’s no meaning. What’s the meaning of a flea? It’s just there. That’s it. And your own meaning is that you’re there." –Joseph Campbell and The Power of Myth (with Bill Moyers), pp. 4-5 (small paperback edition)

Limerick-inspired* verse of the week:
"You said profile, but aren't you here for my obituary?"
"I'm glad you guessed, let's up-and-up—no me-lie/you-wary."
    "Well, that pleases me quite,
    for I can check it's right,
which I can't do after you publish and I'm at the mortuary."
Background: A conversation like this, in prose, occurs on about p. 37 of Tom Rachman's first novel, The Imperfectionists, which I highly recommend to readers of "literary fiction."

* The reasons for "limerick-inspired" were discussed on 2014-07-18.

Copyright © 2014 by Morris Dean


  1. Perhaps if various chicken-hawks, and apologists like Vern, would stop funding "Benji's" proxy wars real negotiation and compromise would ensue in place of the 47 year occupation of Palestine. "Jaw jaw is better than war war." -Winston Churchill

  2. Thanks to all whose correspondence was selected today: Children in a world of trouble, offending US Navy, silly cheer, psychic instances?, twosomes and treesomes[sic], photos a minute, disturbing thoughts, dogs and cats and other animals, talking head with ethics, meaning, limerick-inspired verse....

  3. Thank you, Morris. A very well thought-out presentation, and the pictures are awesome!!

    1. Patsy, dear sister, thank YOU! Kudos usually go to the collection of fish, rarely (if ever) to "the presentation." Indeed, I work for several hours altogether not only selecting the fish to use, but also taking links to learn the titles of articles recommended to me, finding a passage to excerpt (when I choose to excerpt), putting thematically related items together, finding and selecting photographs, positioning them, and, if it hasn't already been written and "perfected" toiling over a limerick-inspired verse (if not an actually, ta-ta-Tum'ing limerick).
          And – ha! – for today's images: worrying over whether or not to include the one with the text "The awkward moment when you see a little more of Mother Nature than you wanted." But the correspondent who sent it to me said he'd seen it "all over" Facebook, so it seemed to have been vetted for public consumption.
          The verse, on this occasion, was almost a gimme. In reading the passage that inspired it (from Tom Rachman's book, The Imperfectionists), the verse more or less formed itself in paraphrase of the prose. I love it when that happens – although it's no nearly so much fun as composing one while driving!