Thursday, April 30, 2015

Thor's Day: Two ways of looking at the chicken in the egg

By Morris Dean

[Originally published December 20, 2012]

The following science story came to my attention [the day I originally wrote this]:
It was for quite some time thought that when chickens hatched and immediately began pecking the ground for food, this behavior must have been instinctive. In the 1920s, a Chinese researcher named Zing-Yang Kuo made a remarkable set of observations on the developing chick egg that overturned this idea – and many similar ones.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Ask Wednesday: Ask Susan

How can I protect my sons from their father?

By Susan C. Price

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

I’m currently going through a divorce and my youngest child, who’s 12, has gone to live with his dad without my consent. Our family home is soon to be sold and I can’t afford to live in the immediate area due to the high cost of renting properties.
    At the moment my son is only five minutes away, but I’m too scared to knock on my ex’s door to see him. My ex is a bully and I know my son is scared to see me because of how his dad might react. I used to contact my son via Facebook, but now he doesn’t read my messages, let alone reply. And he never visits, despite the fact he has to pass my door many times and I work from home. I’m terrified that I will lose him forever and don’t know what to do.
    I also have an older boy who’s 18 and he’s scared of his dad too. –Ruth

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Tuesday Voice: A great privilege

Dick Gregory as pictured in announcement
of January 2015 talk at Lincoln University
To have covered 
Dick Gregory

By Bob Boldt

Shortly before Thanksgiving 1967, I filmed comedian and peace activist Dick Gregory's announcement in Chicago of a fast to oppose the Vietnam War. The Chicago Tribune announced on November 23, 1967:

Monday, April 27, 2015

Fourth Monday Susan Speaks

What can I say?

By Susan C. Price

A friend told me recently that he has "just been overwhelmed capacity to deal with the really usual stuff has diminished." I asked him whether he was okay, what was up. He said:

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Fourth Sunday from Jingle Jangle

The Videotape (Chapter 3 of Jingle Jangle)

By Jim Rix

[Editor’s Note: Blurb from the dust jacket: “An amazing story of the uphill battle required in the fight for truth. For those readers with no experience in the criminal justice system, the measures taken in the name of ‘justice’ will be shocking. The story of Ray Krone offers all readers important lessons – never give up hope, never stop believing in yourself and never stop fighting for what is right. Jim Rix paints a powerful picture of hope, frustration and perseverence. Jingle Jangle shows why we must never stop fighting for those whom the legal system has failed.”
                – Caroline M. Elliot, law school student and 2006-07
                President of the UNC Law Innocence Project
                and the UNC Law Death Penalty Project

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Fourth Saturday's Loneliest Liberal


By James Knudsen

This month's column ventures, yet again, into areas I am not qualified to comment on. Perhaps I should consider politics.
    A good biologist is always wary of anthropomorphizing, attributing human characteristics, emotions, thoughts, musical tastes, onto members of the animal kingdom. Anyone who has owned a pet understands this tendency. Anyone who owns a cat – your cat is felinepomorhizing.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Fish for Friday

Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

"Some Good, Clean Green News." [EarthJustice] Excerpt:
[T]hree cheers for Maryland for passing two bills that will help increase statewide access to clean energy. These bills, if signed by Governor Larry Hogan, will make Maryland the 11th state to allow for the creation of community solar projects. These types of projects expand access to renewable energy by allowing multiple people to invest in or subscribe to one solar energy project and offset a portion of their electric bill through a credit from the energy created.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Thor's Day: A poem from the heart


By Felicia Zapata Finnegan

They claim that I'm just a ball of blood
without any shape or form
they called me by the name of fetus
cause I'm not yet a human formed

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Ask Wednesday: How can we mark this Earth Day?

Some practical suggestions

By Paul Clark, aka motomynd

[Editor's Note: Originally published on April 15, 2013 as "Mark the day," in the motomynd's monthly column, "Third Monday Random."]

Today is the 45th Earth Day. Do you remember the first one—how old does that make you feel? More importantly, do you remember the idealism of that first Earth Day, and all the things you resolved to do to help save the planet? So how have you done—does your resume make you an eco warrior, or just another backslider?

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Tuesday Voice: On the estuary

The Black Swan is the state bird of Western Australia.
[Detail from concluding photo below]
Back to close comforts

By Vic Midyett

As I reported recently, Shirley and I were missing the “close comforts,” so we moved back into our van and into a tourist park about a mile away from the house we had been residing most of the time since we returned to Bunbury.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Third Monday with Bob Boldt

The art of painting (verse)

By Bob Boldt

The heavy drape is rumpled loosely back.
We are invited to view creation.
Here an empty chair has been provided
for an observer, patron, or voyeur.
We draw back farther the heavy curtain
and willingly leave our modern time
for what we think is Vermeer’s stable life.
Why such passion in this our modern age
to enter and to rest our eyes a while,
serene within this ordered universe
of softlit rooms, amid the brick-a-brack,
virginals, maps, and portraits of his town?

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Sunday Review: Woman in Gold

The past revisited and restored?

By Jonathan Price

The 2015 film Woman in Gold (directed by Simon Curtis) is based on a true story and retells it with some detail, intelligence, and passion. At the center of the story is an actual portrait by an Austrian painter of the early twentieth century, Gustav Klimt, of a friend and patron, Adele Bloch-Bauer, surrounded by ornamentation in shimmering gold.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Third Saturday Fiction

Chapters 2 & 3 from the novel Frank O’Hara – The Last PI

By D. Michael Pain

[Editor's Note: Chapter 1, published here on December 29, described the contract killing of an unidentified woman. In today’s excerpt we learn a bit about her and meet the novel’s eponymous hero.]

Chapter 2. Where’s Brenda? When Brenda failed to show for work the following morning her co-workers were a bit alarmed – it was not like her. She was never late and never missed work. After three hours, her close friend Kim tried calling her. First her home, and then her cell. No answer. She left messages. “Hey best friend, where are you?”

Friday, April 17, 2015

Fish for Friday

Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

You know of the very serious drought that California is experiencing. It's in its 4th year. There's finger pointing all around and impending conservation rules on city dwellers that are even stricter than last year's. I don't expect this to accomplish much because most of the water used is by agriculture (80% of the consumption). Starting with my grandfather in 1903, my family has farmed in Tulare County, and I grew up on a farm. Water consumption in Tulare County occurs by drawing on the vast underground water table, which has been dropping at an alarming rate. Every western state but California has long since had laws in place regulating the practice of endlessly pumping from underground aquifers. Big Ag in California managed to shove aside even discussing the necessity to regulate.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Thor’s Day: Autonomy and altruism

Valuing autonomy for the least of these

By Kyle Garza

The self-made man is the American hero, an icon of personal autonomy that overcomes every obstacle in his way and flourishes despite opposition. Thomas Edison was frowned upon by his teachers due to his wandering mind, Walt Disney was told he lacked creativity, Elvis was told he couldn’t sing, and Michael Jordan was once cut by his high school basketball team. Yet all were still given the opportunity to strive to make something of themselves: truly, the American dream fully realized.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Ask Wednesday: What are you doing for your 49th wedding anniversary?

Photo taken by either Morris's best man, Jim Rix, or
Carolyn's matron of honor, Carole Sue Rix, Jim's wife
– it was a very small, elopement wedding
Thanks for asking

By Morris Dean

If your question was actually a subtle reminder to ensure that I remembered our anniversary, thanks. But I did remember, and my wife agreed to my suggestion that we go to the North Carolina Zoo. If we really go today – the weather forecast calls for rain – I'll update this post later to let you know how it was.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Second Tuesday on Franklin Hill Farm

A wonderful thing

By Bettina Sperry

The young man from the farm next door came over recently to ask me if I had a trail riding horse for his wife. I am sure at that moment I fell in love with the idea, too. Both he and his wife are nature-loving farmers, raised life-long on farms and in rural settings. I later convinced him that he needed two horses – one for his beautiful wife and one for him, so he can ride alongside her.
    I have a lot of love and appreciation for my Tennessee Walkers. They are healthy, well behaved, listen well, and are very affectionate souls. They are gentle and giving creatures. They would be moving to the farm next door, gifted to wonderful parents. And it took no time for the Walkers to fall in love with their new family.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Second Monday Music: Geology lesson

Courtesy a quick googling of the web
Edited by Morris Dean

Copyright © 2015 by Morris Dean

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Sunday Review: Going Clear

An exposé

By Morris Dean

Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief (2015 documentary directed by Alex Gibney) aired on HBO on March 29, and my wife and I watched our recording of it this week. Wow was my reaction – and I'm not alone: according to Wikipedia, when the film was shown at the Sundance Film Festival, the audience gave it a standing ovation ("unusual for a Sundance presentation").

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Second Saturday's Sonnet

Vern Oliver Morris Knudsen
(July 12, 1927 - November 13, 2014)
Out of rich memory

By Morris Dean


Time was, this Morris touched and changed us all,
he listened and loved us, always handy,
he seemed to hold our fledgling souls in thrall,
he exposed us to writers in flagrante1,

he aroused our wits to the language game,
he'd laud our Capricorn, Familias,
or something else we didn't know its fame.
Morris fathered well: our four friends2 and us.

And very often now we think of him:
Casa Knudsen open for cheese and wine,
everyone bright and eager, in the trim,
"No leftovers!" And now, here at this shrine,

all's left us of our friend and mentor Mo:
many memories of riches he bestowed.

Until I saw this photo or Morris in James Knudsen's
memorial montage, I didn't know that Jude Law looks 
a lot like Morris looked in his youth. Jude is lucky.

  1. The first book Morris brought to my attention (in Latin I or II) was Nabokov's Lolita.
  2. Most of us whom Morris touched and changed know and are friends not only with Morris's two children but also with his two step-children. See James Knudsen's column "Mo...m," February 28.
Copyright © 2015 by Morris Dean

Friday, April 10, 2015

Fish for Friday

Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

Victory: ruling protects whales, dolphins from Navy's war games. Whales, dolphins and other marine mammals in the Pacific just caught an important break: A Hawaii district court judge has ruled that the National Marine Fisheries Service wrongly approved U.S. Navy testing and training activities that posed serious harm to sea animals.
    The Navy's use of explosives and sonar, along with vessel strikes, could result in thousands of animals suffering death or injuries over a five-year period -- potentially causing an estimated 9.6 million instances of harm.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Thor's Day: Stop

...and flow

By Morris Dean

I take the day off. Or most of it.
    I sit still in a chair facing the window and observe what's happening in front of my mind. There is some component of "mine" in this awareness, but what of it is mine? I'm just looking, not forcing, not trying to guide.
    Birds alight and feed. Leaves of the maple shudder in the wind...the invisible wind.
    Colored patterns or remembered images flit across the mouth of a cave. I don't bring them up. I don't force them. They flow. I flow. What am I?

Copyright © 2015 by Morris Dean

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Ask Wednesday: James Knudsen on writing his monthly column

How do you do it?

Edited by Morris Dean

As we pointed out two weeks ago, in republishing our December 2012 interview of columnist James Knudsen, he has now written 28 “Loneliest Liberal” columns, all of which have been thoughtfully written and enjoyable to read. And he has submitted them with such regularity and punctuality that we have never had to bug him! It has been marvelous, actually. And finally we could stand it no longer. We had to ask him how he does it. [Our questions are in italics.]

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Tuesday Voice: Missionary Kid

My first hunting trip

By Vic Midyett

The only meat we ate in Assam, where I was born, was what Dad shot in the jungle. The reason no meat was available for purchase is that the locals were all Hindu by faith. They didn't eat meat. Many animals were sacred in their faith.
    Dad had a twelve gauge shotgun and a .30-06, and he would go hunting in the jungle once or twice a week. The jungle was about a ten-minute walk away through some rice paddies. Because the average annual rain fall was about 350 inches, it was an extremely dense jungle. One would walk about 20 feet into it, in some areas, and be required to turn on a flash light to see. Dad had a watchman by the name of Beejooly (who slept all night, but that was another Missionary Kid story) whom he took with him for security. Beejooly would cut a path with a machete when needed.

Monday, April 6, 2015

First Monday with Characters

Edited by Morris Dean

Ralph Earle, his forthcoming book of poems
    From Melissa Hassard, Partner and Managing Editor, Sable Books:
I am delighted to announce that we are now taking reservations for the forthcoming chapbook from Ralph Earle, The Way the Rain Works, winner of the 2015 Sable Books February Chapbook Contest. If you’d like to reserve a copy of Ralph’s book, we’ll be glad to hold a copy for you.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Sunday Review: The two slaps

The Slap (TV series): Australian (2011) and American (2015)

By Morris Dean

The Australian and American TV series The Slap (2011 and 2015, respectively) are so similar, it's fun and interesting to watch them both and see how they're different. The opening episode of both series portrays a birthday party at which an adult male administers a sound smack to someone else's misbehaving child, and both series explore the aftermath of that slap, going on for a total of eight episodes, each told from the point of view of a different character. The story, in both series, includes a man's near fling with his children's babysitter, incriminating photographs taken at the birthday party by a teenage boy who's a friend of the babysitter, a family friend's becoming pregnant by a man half her age, a family feud, a court case, and threats of breakup in a couple of marriages and several friendships. The Australian series is set around Melbourne, the American around New York City.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Thirst Satyrday for Eros (in fiction)

Marika (a short story)

By Bob Boldt

Richard met her in a bar on St Patty’s Day. He was drawn to her strong features and wild, glowing hair back lit by the red neon of the old Miller’s Beer sign over the crowded bar. She had to be 20 years his senior and yet his calculations were made irrelevant by her inviting smile and enticing eyes. This was definitely someone worth meeting.
    His striking features and dark hair made him a confident operator with the ladies. As he sided into the empty stool to her right he actually found his confidence strangely shaken and his voice devoid of its usual self-assured tone. “A-are you a-alone,” he stammered out as he fumbled for his lighter.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Fish for Friday

Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

There's something about awe. I experienced it this morning watching the finches. "An Upbeat Emotion That’s Surprisingly Good for You." [Gretchen Reynolds, NY Times] Excerpt:

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Thor's Day: No polite way

The Church of the Skyhook
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had a heavenly move

From Wikipedia

[Daniel C. Dennett, in Darwin's Dangerous Idea*] uses the term "skyhook" to describe a source of design complexity that does not build on lower, simpler layers – in simple terms, a miracle.