Friday, August 15, 2014

Fish for Friday

Robin Williams (July 21, 1951 - August 11, 2014)
Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

The Daily Show website is doing a special on remembering Robin Williams, with a link to his recent appearances with Jon Stewart.

Happy Shark Week! We have some shark news to share with you — help is on the way for scalloped hammerhead sharks! Will you join us in thanking the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for helping these sharks by granting them protection under the Endangered Species Act.
    Scalloped hammerheads are the first sharks ever to receive this protection. They’re extremely vulnerable to shark finning and fishery bycatch throughout much of their range. This is a much-needed boost for this critically important and threatened species. In the last 20 years alone, the number of scalloped hammerheads has fallen by 75 percent. A loss like this has impacts throughout the rest of the ocean’s ecosystem. Sharks play a key role in controlling the abundance of prey they feed on.
    Thank NOAA today for protecting endangered scalloped hammerheads.

Maine is the last state in the country to allow bear dogging, baiting and trapping. In 2013 alone, hunters dumped 7 million pounds of food (mainly spoiled donuts and sweets) in Maine's woods to lure shy black bears out of hiding. ["Sides spending big on ads for Maine’s vote on bear-baiting"] Shooting bears as they eat rotten food is not only unsporting and cruel, but changes the eating patterns of dozens of species in Maine's habitats. Action.

Rhino horn is now worth more than $30,000 a pound on the black market – a price on par with cocaine – which has driven poaching to such intensity that conservationists are resorting to airlifting rhinos to safer locations in a desperate attempt to save them: "Rhinos Airlifted: 100 Endangered Animals to Be Moved From SAfrica." With the rhino population dwindled to less than 26,000 in all of Africa, and 1,000 being illegally killed each year in South Africa alone – most in the once safe haven of Kruger National Park – the airlift could be the last chance to save the species.

A neighbor acquired her miniature Schnauzer in response to an ad in the newspaper. When she got there should found a farm run by the Amish and in a barn were a bunch of mini Schnauzers that were just past the puppy stage. The farmer told her to take her pick, as many that she wanted, because the next day he was planning on drowning the dogs because they were past the cute little puppy stage and no one would buy them (I don’t know where the rescuers were then — maybe they weren’t prevalent at this time or maybe there are just so many that rescue groups can save. This was close to 20 years ago.

"Congress runs away from duty." Excerpt:
Only 142 public bills have become law so far this session, the least-productive in at least 67 years. And though some complain that the House passed plenty of bills – such as a resolution to sue the president – few were likely to find traction in the Senate....
    Still, for tackling the complicated issues of the 21st century, members of Congress enjoy rich benefits: a $174,000 salary, slated to increase by $2,800 in January; an average office allowance of $1.3 million (House) or $3.2 million (Senate); and health care under the Affordable Care Act. That's in addition to months of recess, vacation and holidays each year....
    Congress passed the August recess law; Congress should rewrite it. Rather than encouraging members to flit around their states, raising money and campaigning, the law should require elected leaders to remain at the Capitol until they've reached agreement on the most important issues this country faces.
    They haven't done their jobs. They haven't earned the generous benefits taxpayers provide. Shame and duty should bring them back this month to deliberate, compromise and vote on a host of critical issues. America shouldn't have to wait until after the November elections to see progress.

You are invited to "A Self-Realization Retreat," Sept. 12-14, in Parvani Hall, Galway, Ireland.
Discard all that you are and go ever deeper. Just as a man digging a well discards what is not water, until he reaches the water-bearing strata, so you must discard what is not your own, till nothing is left which you can disown. You will find that what is left is nothing which the mind can hook on to. You are not even a human being. You just are - a point of awareness, co-extensive with time and space and beyond both, the ultimate cause, itself uncaused. If you ask me, "Who are you?" my answer would be: "Nothing in particular. Yet, I am." –Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

Robert Reich today:
This is the summer of our discontent. Almost everyone I know is angry – with politics, with government, with the media, with their work, with their employer, with people who hold different views. Why? Not since the 1930s have so many Americans been on a downward escalator economically and faced so much financial insecurity. That we're supposed to be in an economic recovery makes it all the worse. I think this the root of our anger, and it has a lot to do with fear. I sense it in the way the anger is expressed – with bitterness and resentment, cynicism, often in ad hominem attacks and personal insults. Yet if we're to improve the situation we've got to turn the anger in a constructive direction, work hard to change things, disagree respectfully, and use argument instead of invective. Is the widespread discontent causing us to forget how much we depend on common sense and decency?

Work rules: "Why the 9-to-5 Day Is So Tough on Creative Workers." Excerpt:
A shorter workday works particularly well for knowledge workers – people in creative or professional jobs – who can work productively for about six hours a day, compared to the eight hours manual laborers can churn out, according to Salon. Unlike machines, humans operate on a cyclical basis, which means our energy and motivation fluctuate in peaks and troughs. Cognitive workers tend to be more focused in the late morning, getting another energy boost in the late afternoon when lung efficiency peaks.
Life imitates really bad joke: "Parents fall off cliff as kids snap picture." "Okay, take one more step back, and give us a big smile!"

This is amazing!

January: James Bond, Wilhelm Buiting, 89
A creative calendar from a retirement home. I bet they had a ball. A German Retirement Community did a calendar where seniors amazingly recreated famous movie scenes. The Contilia Retirement Group in Essen, Germany made what is probably the best calendar ever with a few of their seniors. According to German press, 5,000 calendars were printed. And they were given out to residents of the senior center, along with relatives and staff. The calendar models were interviewed about the project and said it was a ton of fun to dress up as their favorite actors. The shoot was done with professional stylists and photographers to make sure everything looked as cool as possible. The oldest senior involved with the calendar was 98 years old!
December: Easy Rider, Walter Loeser, 98 und Kurt Neuhaus, 90

This is so bizarre we almost dismissed it as a spoof, but apparently it is the real deal: "MN GOP endorses religious fanatic drunk-driver for State Supreme Court." Now if it could only turn out that she was a topless dancer in a younger day, we would have enough for a full-blown reality TV show, instead of the inevitable sarcastic monologue Jon Stewart just about has to do on this topic [on The Daily Show].

The things people say!
Wind is such an unreliable source of electricity that coal plants are required to operate around the clock as backup for wind power. –Fossil-fuel funded front group ALEC
    More and more these days special interests go out of their way to spread misinformation and undermine science – and the truth isn't always easy to see.
    That's why we want to make sure you can spot the difference between science fact and science fiction! Take our Got Science or Not Science quiz today and get a free "Got Science?" sticker.

Not only are dollars buying votes, the dollars aren't even from each candidate's constituencies – they're from out of state! "Carpet-bagging state elections." Excerpt:
Why should monied people in other states of the Union have a voice in our North Carolina election? The person who wins that seat will be elected to serve the people of North Carolina and to carry out our wishes. So why should someone in New York or California or Iowa or any other state have a role in our election by contributing funds to our campaigns?
    ...When our government was formed, the early leaders decided on a representative form of government where people in the various states would elect one of their neighbors to go away to Washington. That individual was to vote on issues in government based on the desires of those people who elected him.
    ...As years passed, that concept was subverted by money. The national parties became money-raising machines which sent funds to various state campaigns. And when the winners got to Washington they quickly learned they would vote as the party wanted them to vote — not how the people back home wanted. If not, that individual would have no positions of power nor would he or she have party backing for any legislation he or she might propose.
    ...Big lobby groups were formed and money began to flow to the various office holders. If they wanted that money to continue, they voted as the lobby group wanted — regardless of the feelings of the people back home. And of course, the office holders want that money to assure re-election.

Another Sunday School teacher asked Johnny, "Do you think Noah did a lot of fishing when he was on the Ark ?"
    "No," replied Johnny. "How could he, with just two worms?"

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: Are there any ATMs (cash machines) in Australia? Can you send me a list of them in Brisbane, Cairns, Townsville and Hervey Bay? ( UK )
    A: What did your last slave die of?

Q: Can you give me some information about hippo racing in Australia? ( USA)
    A: Af-ri-ca is the big triangle shaped continent south of Europe....
    Aust-ra-lia is that big island in the middle of the Pacific which does not....
    Oh, forget it. Sure, the hippo racing is every Tuesday night in Kings Cross. Come naked.

Q: Which direction is North in Australia? ( USA)
    A: Face south, and then turn 180 degrees. Contact us when you get here and we'll send the rest of the directions.

The base [of the Republican Party] consists principally of white evangelical Christians who, the pollsters tell us, fear that their America is disappearing. Of course they are right; it has probably disappeared already. Their America would not have elected a black president: "How Republicans lost their mind, Democrats lost their soul and Washington lost its appeal." Excerpt:
The 1980s changed America. These were the years when corporations and wealthy individuals organized to fight back against the liberal forces that had dominated the ’60s and ’70s. Moneyed interests organized new groups, especially political action committees that were prepared to spend large sums to achieve their political objectives. This began the three-decade process that has made money the most important element of our public life, a form of pollution way beyond the reach of the Environmental Protection Agency.
    As money became more and more important to congressional candidates, Democrats, especially in the House, became less and less effective in their historic role as the allies and defenders of the little guy. Their electoral successes every two years dulled their competitive skills. They had little to offer by way of new policies or ideas. They became smug, self-satisfied, too willing to engage in the petty corruptions that four decades in control made so easy. Instead of defending the little guy, Democrats helped themselves.
    Newt Gingrich understood the opportunity those ’80s Democrats had created for Republicans. Gingrich was the most effective and most destructive political figure I encountered in five decades covering Washington. He invented the partisan warfare that has produced today’s gridlock. He encouraged the disregard for facts that has defiled our public life. He believed, fiercely, that the end justified the means. The end he sought was a Republican House, and he had no qualms about how it was achieved or maintained. He and his successor as lead enforcer, Rep. Tom DeLay of Texas, helped destroy collegiality in Washington.

Limerick-inspired verse of the week:
"Call to order, Public comments," the City's agenda read
when the Council's clerk first published it three days ahead.
    About time they scuttled prayer!
    We should State and Church not pair!
But damn! On the night: after "Call to order," "Invocation" was embed.
[The verse tells a literally true story, from this month's annals of the Mebane, North Carolina, City Council.]

Copyright © 2014 by Morris Dean


  1. Thanks to all my correspondents whose stuff became fish: Robin Williams, sharks, bears, rhinos, puppies, malingering Congress, national anger, bitterness, resentment, and cynicism, borders, workday, family-less photo, senior calendar, bizarre candidate even by Republican standards, anti-science propaganda, buying other states' elections, no joke, Christians' religion, invocational disappointment in verse....

  2. Rand Paul also finds "limerick-inspired" verse appealing. In a recent speech, he denounced a political rival with this:

    There once was a woman from Kentucky,

    who thought in politics she’d be lucky.
    So she flew to L.A. for a Hollywood bash.

    She came home in a flash
with buckets of cash.

    Pretty awful, but hey, "limerick-inspired."

  3. Nice to see an objective reference to the Amish instead of giving them a pass for their "quaintness" as the media often does. If you think the way they treat animals is bad, do a Google search of "Amish children sexual abuse" and prepare to be stunned by the results.