Friday, August 1, 2014

Fish for Friday

Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

In a fish last Friday, one of your writers was accurate in mentioning the problems that started in 1954 with the CIA engineered overthrow of the democratically elected government of Guatemala. Referencing that one act, however, barely scratches the surface of what Americans have done to Central America over the decades. The excerpt linked to here from the book Banana: The Fate of the Fruit that Changed the World, by Dan Koeppel, references what American commerce and firepower began doing to the region more than 100 years ago.
    Yet it is not fair to blame only large corporations and government agencies for U.S. misconduct in the region: Millions upon millions of individual American citizens are equally at fault. Any American who owns stock in the companies that profit from using intimidation and force in the region ["Banana barons peel Third World"] contributes to what happens there. And any American who ever used an illegal drug trafficked through the region helped pay to create and field test the network that now also traffics children.

Both entertaining and scary: "Watch Deluded Immigration Protesters Display Stunning Ignorance! (Video)" Excerpt (preceding link to video):
The below video was produced by Youtube member FP TVNEWS at an anti-immigration rally held recently in Houston, and the stunning, bang-your-head-against-the-wall ignorance on display will have you… banging your head against the wall.
    All of these people are probably beyond help. They’ve been brainwashed by Fox News to the point of no return, and there is no 12-step program out there to help them. Do they have a 12-step program for being stupid? We need one… and these people should be the first in line to sign up for such a thing.

Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."

Fear itself? It's that simple? "Surprise: New Study Pinpoints The Root Of Right Wing Ideology." Excerpt:
In spite of all their talk about God and faith, it seems that republicans are actually living in fear most of the time. That seems contrary to their constant rhetoric about an almighty and all powerful God who is supposedly their protector and benefactor.
    On the other hand, a large compilation of research indicates that conservatives could probably really benefit from intensive counselling services, which could help them learn to cope with the underlying cause of their extreme ideology, fear. Of course they probably distrust counselors and think they will try to fill their heads with "liberal ideas," so the odds of any of them getting help are pretty slim. For those of us who are not conservative, maybe understanding how the right wing thinks can help us figure out how to relate to them better.

Eureka! A happy discovery, indeed [that a person CAN see a preview image of a post on a smartphone - by rotating the phone to horizontal]. Yes, it works for me, as well. The solution was under our noses, literally! I love these types of accidental discoveries (was yours accidental? [no, I just thought it might work, so tried it]). For instance, I never knew I could easily access an accented é on my smartphone without cutting and pasting. I accidentally held down my finger on the e button long enough to discover all of the special characters. [Listen up, everyone with a smartphone who hadn't discovered that yet!]

Condolences to the writer in last week's "Fish for Friday" who referenced recently losing their mother, and who raised the specter of the unknown power of the mind.
    From the time I was only three or four years old, until nearly age 10, my parents and much older siblings struggled to figure out what was wrong with me. Several times a month I would awake in the middle of the night and could not be consoled back to sleep unless I was allowed to take the quilt my grandmother handmade for me, and go to sleep on the floor in front of the huge, dark-stained, ominous looking dresser of unknown history in my grandmother's room. Settled in front of the dresser I slept peacefully, as far as I knew, but others in my family report I would thrash and make strange guttural noises that almost sounded like some sort of Native American dialect. While asleep, or in whatever state I was, I would have vivid dreams about a landscape totally alien to where I lived on the East Coast: Soaring red and yellow rocks, mountains without trees, ocean waves crashing through black rock formations as the sun set behind them. And "Indians" who were kind, nothing like what I saw in the western TV shows of my youth.
   It wasn't until I was in my 30s, recovering from the tragic loss of two close friends by driving aimlessly through the West, following my mood instead of a map, that I rounded a bend on a nameless gravel road in Nevada and saw the soaring red and yellow rocks of my childhood dreams rising toward my windshield. A few days later I accidentally found my way to the Pacific Ocean and watched the sun set through the same rocks I had dreamed of so long ago.
   It wasn't until years later, when I was dealing with some family matters after the loss of an aged relative, that I learned the old dresser had once belonged to my great grandfather Archibald. All I knew of him at the time was he was born in Scotland, came to America with his family when he was a child, and lived and died in the western part of New York State, where he was so successful enough as a farmer that he started his own bank. I was visiting with my elderly aunt, the self-appointed family genealogist, telling her about a recent trip back to the West Coast, when she said "you know, your great grandfather loved the West too. Lived out there quite a few years as a young man."
   No, I did not know that, but subsequent research verified it and greatly enlightened me. He had gone west for the California "Gold Rush" and wound up owning a tract of land less than 50 miles from the spot I accidentally found my way to on that aimless drive in my 30s. From there he had gone to Nevada for the silver rush; my wending drive had taken me to Virginia City, which was in the heart of the state's silver and gold boom. I also later discovered that he had made his fortune not from farming in New York, but by maintaining a herd of more than 3,000 goats, and a flock of several hundred chickens, all of which he moved back and forth with the season thanks to the help of Native Americans who had accepted him into their midst. And who he paid handsomely, in that place and time, for their help. When one is selling eggs to miners for $1.00 each in the 1860s, plus earning ransom rates for goat milk and meat, there is plenty of money left over to pay the help well. And to come back to New York and buy a 500-acre farm and start a bank.
   Make of it what you will, but yes, the unknown power of the mind is an amazing thing.

Lumosity is daily (or whenever) online brain games to help you keep or improve the functioning you have, you can try it out for free: "Lumosity: Human Cognition Project." Excerpt:
1. Memory [Select all aspects of your memory that you want to challenge]
  • Remembering patterns and locations
  • Associating names with faces
  • Keeping track of multiple pieces of information in your head
  • Recalling sequences of objects and movements
Individuals need this more than they need Jesus:
This is an absolute necessity for anybody today. You must have a room, or a certain hour or so a day, where you don’t know what was in the newspapers that morning, you don’t know who your friends are, you don’t know what you owe anybody, you don’t know what anybody owes to you. This is a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be. This is the place of creative incubation. At first you may find that nothing happens there. But if you have a sacred place and use it, something eventually will happen. –Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth (with Bill Moyers)

Today a pilot whale washed up on the beach in Hanalei, Kauai, and soon died. Meanwhile, massive naval war games continue off the shore of the Hawaiian Islands.
    In the words of marine biologists at the scene of the stranding, endangered sea turtles are showing up with their legs blown off, dead or simply disappearing.... 2,000 year old coral reefs are disintegrating into piles of rubble on the sea floor. And then, this morning, a dead whale. For every whale that washes up on the beach, it is thought that many more simply die at sea.
    The US Navy and 22 foreign navies from around the world are continuing their war games in these beautiful waters. They are sinking ships (likely releasing toxic PCBs and asbestos into the ecosystem), detonating bombs, and deploying high-intensity sonar which seriously disrupts marine mammal behaviors, permanently damages their hearing, and can drive them onto beaches to die.
    NOAA says it will investigate this death... but if they follow previous patterns, they will not release the results until months, years or a decade down the road – most likely on a holiday weeked, when most people will have forgotten about it. This is a tragic outcome for whales & dolphins who deserve our protection.
    We need your assistance now to bring this travesty to the public’s attention. We need to demand that the Navy use more simulation software for sonar trainings and deploy safer technologies that won't destroy our natural world.
    Please sign my petition to Stop the Navy's War on Whales and Dolphins –- and pass it along to others who share your love for the oceans. Or go to our website at

    To learn the truth about how Navy sonar is killing whales, please check out Joshua Horwitz's new book, War of the Whales.
    Big Thanks to Marine Biologist Terry Lilley for sharing this information and being a stellar protector of the Islands. To see his report from the scene of the stranding click "Pilot whale dies after washing up in Hanalei Bay on Kauai."
    Thank you so much for your love and support of our natural world.

I've been waking up about 4 a.m. for the last week. Probably psyching myself up for the desert. I'm not looking forward to this 1000+ miles of nothing and extremely high gasoline and LPG filling-station prices they charge at these road houses. The problem is I can't get on the road until after daybreak because the pee-brain roos are still out. Daybreak isn't until after 7.

These were posted on an Australian tourism website, and the answers are the actual responses by the website officials, who obviously have a great sense of humor (not to mention a low tolerance threshold for cretins!):
Q: Does it ever get windy in Australia? I have never seen it rain on TV, how do the plants grow? (UK).
    A: We import all plants fully grown, and then just sit around watching them die.
Q: Will I be able to see kangaroos in the street? (USA)
    A: Depends how much you've been drinking.
Q: I want to walk from Perth to Sydney – can I follow the railroad tracks? (Sweden)
    A: Sure, it's only three thousand miles. Take lots of water.
It looks like the giant anteaters have had enough of being illegally hunted and having their habitat destroyed in Brazil: "Giant anteaters kill two hunters in Brazil." Now if only the much more mobile and better armed jaguars will take up the fight.

Last Saturday, July 26, a federal judge in the District of Columbia overturned the city’s total ban on residents being allowing to carry firearms outside their home ["Federal judge rules DC ban on gun carry rights unconstitutional"].  This ruling is the culmination of a long legal fight and is considered a landmark decision in favor of gun-rights activists.
    For those who instinctively shudder at the potential impact of the ruling and see DC's prohibitive gun laws as the major factor keeping the city at least somewhat safe for residents and visitors, well...we know who we are and we may have to admit to being wrong on this one.
    It seems that despite having the most draconian anti-gun rules of just about any place in the nation, DC has the highest rate per capita of gun murders and armed robberies of any place in the nation: "Gun crime statistics by US state: latest data."
    Time and statistics will tell if overturning DC's gun ban and allowing legal carry of firearms outside the home helps improve the crime rate and make the city safer, or if it helps make matters even worse, but pro-gun activists are more than willing to take that chance. Their logic: "When you are by far the worst in the whole country, how much worse can you get?"

The guy with the gun said he didn't know what all the fuss was about, they only shot the cat two times.

A Sunday School teacher was telling her class the story of the Good Samaritan. She asked the class, "If you saw a person lying on the roadside, all wounded and bleeding, what would you do?"
    A thoughtful little girl broke the hushed silence, "I think I'd throw up."

Thanks for Sunday's review of Fall in Love with an Orange Tree or a Book. Orange trees carry much symbolism for me. They have been a source of wealth for some, but the wealth isn't well distributed. Even the growers face some pretty grim odds sometimes: pests, lack of water, freezes, and markets that can be manipulated to enrich middlemen. And the employment offered for picking and packing oranges is paid at or near minimum wage and is seasonal – so those who rely on this income have to stretch it out with food stamps and unemployment benefits. In its beauty the orange seems to embody promise of economic and physical well being. A lot of that is marketing propaganda, and its promise is that of the burlesque dancer: When all the clothes come off, there's really nothing different from many other types of agricultural production.

Limerick-inspired verse of the week:
A young man lusts to loose his testosteros,
an old man thirsts to have again his lost eros;
    both men, however hung,
    and whether ever sung,
hoist as high as can to toast it, "Prost! Eros!"
[In anticipation of tomorrow's coming of the column "Thirst Satyrday for Eros."]

Copyright © 2014 by Morris Dean


  1. Thanks to the correspondents who provided fish: The children...and ones of us...and Jesus and this "Christian nation," citizenship, counseling for conservatives, Eureka!, powers of mind, brain games, creative incubation, animals, Aussie humor, anteaters fight back, ever guns wounding and bleeding, some meanings of oranges, funny eggs, Eros....

  2. Good Limerick, however I think the first time I read it was on the door of the stall where I was setting.(big smile) Good fish. How would you like to find yourself at a dinner table with the people from the video, without a gun to shot yourself.

  3. Is it possible that allowing people in DC to carry guns outside their homes will inspire politicians to go back to settling their differences with armed duels? Imagine the days of Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton, and Andrew Jackson and Charles Dickinson, relived in a time of semi-automatic handguns with high-capacity clips.

    1. That could make for some exciting shows! Might serve as competition for a huge number of Hollywood shoot-'em-ups.

    2. At least they would be doing something. Right now a good shoot out on the Hill doesn't sound so bad.
      All the hired guns are headed for the Texas border---I wonder what will be said when they shoot the first 10 year old kid.

  4. Normally I'm not a huge fan of anarchy. However, given the latent dysfunction of our democracy, how much worse could it be?

  5. Well Moto, I guess that would depend on which side won. In this case, I'm not so sure good would overcome evil. If our elections are a gauge of how the sides would divide, the thinking on that video will be taught in the schools. Glad to have you back---the kid must be sleeping at night now.