Friday, October 31, 2014

Fish for Friday

In memoriam

Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

We dedicate today's column to our dear friend and colleague Contributing Editor Tom Lowe, who died a week ago today, early morning in hospital in Berkeley, California. He will be sorely missed. He is greatly missed already.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Thor's Day: Holy Humor 6

By Anonymous

Edited by Morris Dean

[The following story is a favorite of Paul Clark, aka motomynd.]

An elderly man entered a Catholic church on a quiet Monday afternoon, looked around furtively, and made his way to the confessional booth. After some gentle prodding from the priest hidden on the other side, he told his tale:

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Ask Wednesday: How long does it take to become fluent in Salt Lake City's street nomenclature?

It depends on who's trying

By Morris Dean

We were in Salt Lake City, Utah, for four days recently, and though we depended on GPS to get from here to there, a particular fascination of the place was trying to master the street nomenclature. It should be very easy. The original streets were laid out by the compass, the center of town being Temple Square, the seat of church-state government and Brigham Young's homestead and many-wives household. The concept was that of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints' prophet, Joseph Smith. In 1831 he envisioned the "City of Zion" laid out that way. His plat called for "all streets to be 132 feet wide. These created square blocks of 10 acres measuring 660 feet on each side." [Urban Planning Library, Cornell University]

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Tuesday Voice: Posthumously speaking 6

"The Lighthouse," detail
From the lighthouse

By Mary Alice Condley (1925-2007)

[Editor's Note: Today's painting is the 17th we've shown by the artist. It belongs to the artist's niece Dawn Stella Burke, who says of her aunt, "She always did such sweet things for everyone. I have so many wonderful memories of her and Uncle Eb. She was a special one to all of us." Dawn is the daughter of Mary's sister Flo Elowee Story.
    Four paintings in the collection of the artist's sister Patsy Ruth Garza were shown on October 14.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Fourth Sunday through Tom's Looking Glass

Reflecting emotion and action

By Tom Lowe

The year 2007 found me working with St. Mary’s Senior Center, Alameda County Community Food Bank, and the ASSETS Senior Employment Opportunities program. The latter is a federally funded retraining project, part of LBJ’s Great Society initiatives of 1964, administered by the City of Oakland. I was spending quite a bit of time around Frank Ogawa Plaza, where Oakland’s City Hall is situated, and the photos of that year reflect that.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Fourth Saturday's Loneliest Liberal: Cars

The ones my dad had me grow up with

By James Knudsen

I'm sure everyone has a tale to tell of how they were embarrassed by their parents. It was rarely deliberate. Parents are usually too harried with the tasks associated with being parents to have the time necessary to formulate a plan to make their children want to crawl in a hole and disappear from the sight of every teen/pre-teen peer they know or wish they knew. More often it is the case of an adult being who they are. Recent events have caused me to consider my dad and the way he went about being who he is.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Fish for Friday

Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

In the same week American sports fans were understandably agog about Peyton Manning setting the record for career touchdown passes, by throwing 509 TDs in 56 fewer games than it took former record holder Brett Favre, the world barely noticed that another exclusive milestone was reached. Suni, one of only two breeding male northern white rhinos left in the world, died at age 34 in a preserve in Kenya: "One Of 7 Northern White Rhinos Left In The World Dies In Kenya." Excerpt:

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Thor's Day: Dancing

Not irreligious

By Anonymous

A Mormon missionary dance-off with a Michael Jackson imitator has been caught on camera:

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Ask Wednesday: Who visited your fountain recently?

Uncropped so you can see the arc of
the field scope lens [click to enlarge]
Look at my photos

By Morris Dean

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Tuesday Voice: Busselton, Western Australia

Where you will find the longest wooden pier in the southern hemisphere

By Vic Midyett

The beautiful little town of Busselton (population about 22,000) is just over 30 miles south of where we're now living, in Bunbury.
    Some excerpts from Wikipedia's generous article:

Monday, October 20, 2014

Third Monday Musing: On an irony of the creation of something from nothing

Its paradoxical aesthetic asymmetry

By Rolf Dumke

What fun to read your philosophical-historical query on why is there something rather than nothing!
    Modern physicists have indeed analyzed why there is something. According to the latest theories, the initial Big Bang should have created exactly the same amount of matter and anti-matter – i.e., in symmetry – at the first moment of explosion. And these should have immediately combined to eliminate each other, eliminating everything that had been created in the first tenzillionth squared of a second.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Sunday Review: How Jesus Became God (book)

It all started with his supposed resurrection

By Morris Dean

The Nicene creed includes the affirmation that
I one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all in Being with the Father.
That is, Jesus is believed to have always been God. There is some irony, then, in the title of Bart D. Ehrman's 2014 book, How Jesus Became God, which refers not to the fact of Jesus's being God, but to the belief. How did that belief come about?

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Third Saturday Fiction

Chapter 23. Fort Carson, from the novel Boystown

By Ed Rogers

[Feeling the Colombian drug cartel's heat, James Hamilton has enlisted to get as far away from them as possible. Previous excerpt, "The High Country," published here on August 30.]

The NCO at the recruiting station promised me the moon and first shot at his daughter if I signed up right then. I got the feeling that even in the poor part of town, kids weren’t eager to fight in a war. The fact that I had dodged the draft and could trace all my troubles back to that decision hadn’t eluded my attention. I was fully prepared to go to jail for my beliefs, but that wasn’t what the Colombians had in mind. I explained to the Sergeant that I had been living outside of the U.S. and didn’t have a draft card. I told him I hadn’t been home in a few years and never received a letter from any draft board.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Fish for Friday

Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

Paul Krugman's surprise: "In Defense of Obama," Rolling Stone. Excerpt:
Obama was indeed naive: He faced scorched-earth Republican opposition from Day One, and it took him years to start dealing with that opposition realistically. Furthermore, he came perilously close to doing terrible things to the U.S. safety net in pursuit of a budget Grand Bargain; we were saved from significant cuts to Social Security and a rise in the Medicare age only by Republican greed, the GOP's unwillingness to make even token concessions.
    But now the shoe is on the other foot: Obama faces trash talk left, right and center – literally – and doesn't deserve it. Despite bitter opposition, despite having come close to self-inflicted disaster, Obama has emerged as one of the most consequential and, yes, successful presidents in American history. His health reform is imperfect but still a huge step forward – and it's working better than anyone expected. Financial reform fell far short of what should have happened, but it's much more effective than you'd think. Economic management has been half-crippled by Republican obstruction, but has nonetheless been much better than in other advanced countries. And environmental policy is starting to look like it could be a major legacy.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Thor's Day: Holy humor 5

By Anonymous

Edited by Morris Dean

We keep the Holy Cow in the barn and the Holy Mackerel in the lake...I guess I don't have to tell you what we keep in....

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Ask Wednesday: What else did you see or do at Neubeuern besides visit the millstone quarry?

Hardly enough

By Morris Dean

[Sequel to "What of great interest didn't you report from Bavaria?," October 1]

When we went to Rosenheim, a few miles southeast of Munich, to visit Rolf & Susan Dumke, we had never heard of the little town of Neubeuern. And I don't think we ever would have except that the millstone quarry was near there. Rolf & Susan took us into the town's historic district, which we entered through one of the district's old city gates before parking in the town square, very near the parish Church of the Immaculate Conception:

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Tuesday Voice: Posthumously speaking 5

"Flowers in a Blue Vase" (detail)
Paintings domestic and wild

By Mary Alice Condley (1925-2007)

[Editor's Note: Today's four paintings belong to the artist's sister Patsy Ruth Garza.
    Three paintings in the collection of the artist's daughter were shown on September 30.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Second Monday Music: Interpretative layers

Young Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904)
Of the music of Antonín Dvořák

By Geoffrey Dean

The Czech romantic composer Antonín Dvořák gained international popularity in the late 1870s, when his first set of Slavonic Dances was published at the recommendation of Johannes Brahms. Like so many other works by Dvořák, the Slavonic Dances use characteristic folk rhythms coupled with catchy folk-like tunes that were invented by Dvořák rather than being quoted from existing music. Dvořák used a similar combination of borrowing and invention when he came to the United States in 1892 and set out to show American composers how they might create an American-sounding classical music – a national school of composition similar to the ones that had emerged in Russia and Dvořák’s own Bohemia.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Sunday Review: Four quick takes

A movie, two documentaries, and a TV series

By Morris Dean

Whoopi Goldberg Presents Moms Mabley (aka "Moms Mabley: I Got Somethin' to Tell You," 2013)
    My wife remembered Moms Mabley (1894-1975) as I did, as a bawdy, toothless old black comedian you couldn't dislike for being completely spellbound by her. (She also reminded me of my mother, who didn't have any teeth either.) We didn't know anything else about Moms. She was performing in the twenties, so when we saw her on television in the fifties or sixties (we don't remember when precisely), she was around 60-70. We didn't know she had been raped (more than once). We didn't know that off-stage, she was "Mr. Mom."

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Second Saturday's Sonnet


By Eric Meub

[Originally published on October 12, 2013]

Of course you’ll dine on anything: Good Dog.
What is the world to you but meat and grog?
According to philosophy you chew
because you’re finite: that’s what finite systems do.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Fish for Friday

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper
(1825-1911), abolitionist,
poet, and author
Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

History is bunk? "Why the GOP hates U.S. history: Inconvenient truths that freak out American conservatives." The right is losing its mind over new testing standards that aren't "patriotic" enough. Time for a history lesson! Opening paragraphs:

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Thor's Day: Natural selection

Charles Darwin (1809-1882)
A scientific myth

By Kyle Garza

The qualities of a good mythological tale are easily recognizable to anyone. Personified powers or forces like gods of war or love vie for power or control in a great cosmic hierarchy. Some rise and some fall, but progress is always being made. Today, we assume that in the sophisticated, intellectual culture of the 21st century, with our scientific advancement and progress, we have left these archaic beliefs in the superstitious dust where they belong.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Ask Wednesday: Ask Susan

Which boyfriend should I go with?

By Susan C. Price

[Questions are followed by answers and then, inevitably by DID expect that...didn’t you?]

My live-in boyfriend of six years and I have a child together. The child wasn't planned but he stood by me. However, a few months ago I found I was pregnant again and he insisted this time that I have an abortion. He gave valid reasons: money, apartment too small, etc., so reluctantly I went along with it.
    But since the day of the procedure he has not been supportive at all, even though I've told him how against it I was and how upset and guilty I feel. His brother, whom I've known longer than him, went through something similar last year, and he has been very understanding and my rock these last few months...and I've fallen in love with him.
    When I told him, he said he feels the same and wants us to take my child [by his brother] and run away together to start a new life. What am I to do? I know he'll look after us better than his brother did, and he also wants his own children with me. But I still love my live-in boyfriend! –Ms. Live In

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Tuesday Voice: Missionary Kid

Book in preparation

By Vic Midyett

As you know from previous "Missionary Kid" stories, I grew up in India to American missionary parents.

Monday, October 6, 2014

First Monday with Characters

Edited by Morris Dean

Tom Lowe, in remembrance
Fella by the name of Clemens complained years ago, “The coldest Winter I ever spent was a Summer in San Francisco”....He left too soon. From the middle of September to around Thanksgiving the Bay Area experiences the warmest part of its year. That’s where we are right now, with afternoon temperatures in the mid-eighties some days, and foggy mornings. A good season to get some work done, I’m hoping. Finishing my “Spring cleaning” would be a start.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Sunday Review: Boystown: Ride the Cocaine Highway North (novel)

Now available as a Kindle book

By Morris Dean

You may not recognize the title as that of the novel from which three chapters have been published here and identified simply as from Boystown, but it's the same book, by the same writer – our contributing editor Ed Rogers. Another difference, besides the subtitle specially added for Kindle, is that Ed's first name isn't capitalized on the cover. Ed explains:

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Thirst Satyrday for Eros: Love in a cold climate

Original letterpress print for a Nancy Mitford novel
Does Hell give off or absorb heat?

By Anonymous

Edited by Morris Dean

[The following is alleged to be an actual question given on a University of Arizona chemistry midterm, and an actual answer turned in by a student. It didn't start out to have anything at all to do with Eros, unless by a circuitous route of associations having to do with love...death...heaven...hell.]

For Bonus Points: Is Hell exothermic (gives off heat) or endothermic (absorbs heat)?

Friday, October 3, 2014

Fish for Friday

Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

490,000 square miles! Ocean Conservancy's Ocean Action News: We Did It: The U.S. Creates the World’s Largest Marine Protected Area. President Obama has expanded the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument to include more than 490,000 square miles!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Thor's Day: Believing what makes us feel good

We're not free to do it

By Morris Dean

Something I said last week has been on my mind a lot since. I mentioned that I come from a large family of true Christian believers, and that's a big reason religion has played a pivotal role in my own life, going right back to Mother's knee, where I was schooled in emotional Pentecostal religion.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Ask Wednesday: What of great interest didn't you report from Bavaria?

The millstone quarry above Neubeuern

By Morris Dean

After reading last week's column ("What did you do on your summer vacation?"), my friend Rolf Dumke, whom we visited our first full day in Bavaria (he's pictured here pointing), emailed me that he was "a bit disappointed that [I] ignored the millstone quarry above Altenbeuern [Old Beuern], an unusual and symbolic world event." Altenbeuern seems forgotten; now it's Neubeuern (which we visited – but more about that another time perhaps).