Friday, July 31, 2015

Fish for Friday

Infinite staircase by artist Olafur Eliasson,
at the KPMG building in Munich, Germany
Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

Thinking outside the box. Two of your feet – preferably on opposite sides of your body – must remain outside the box at all times.

I am sure you have a lot of pictures of the dead lion by now but I'm sending you that one.
    And here's a link to a song that you maybe know how to link to a picture.

    It makes me so sad to listen to that beautiful song, knowing that Cecil is dead, his offspring are in danger, and other lions and big game are ever in danger from sports hunters: "Dentist Who Killed Beloved Lion in Hiding, Has US Poaching Record." [Newsmax Wires] Excerpt:

The wealthy American dentist who killed Zimbabwe's beloved lion Cecil is a trophy-seeking bow hunter with a poaching conviction in the United States....
    A figure of some renown in hunting circles, [Walter James Palmer] made the claim in a New York Times article on trophy hunting published in 2009. He told the paper he learned to shoot at age five and said at the time he had slain all but one of the 29 trophy animals recognized by the bow hunting group Pope and Young. His kill list of 43 different animals also includes a polar bear, a mountain lion, an elephant and an African lion he killed in 2005, according to club records obtained by the Minneapolis Star Tribune....
    Palmer illegally shot a black bear outside a designated hunting zone in Wisconsin in 2006, court records showed. He pleaded guilty to lying to federal authorities about the location of the kill in 2008, paid a nearly $3,000 fine and was required to forfeit the bear's remains....
    Images of Palmer grinning over his dead prey – a limp leopard held up like a plush toy in his shirtless arms, a rhino, an elk, a big horned sheep, a cape buffalo – circulated widely on the Internet and fed criticism, finally unleashing death threats and a global firestorm of hate messages on social media....
    The lion's death has spawned half a dozen petitions on and calls by animal rights groups for U.S. laws to protect big game animals and prevent hunters from bringing trophies back to the United States....
    Even Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton weighed in: "It's an iconic lion," Dayton, a Democrat, told reporters. "To lure the animal out of the preserve, I don't understand how anybody thinks that's a sport. I just think it is horrible."
    Palmer said in a statement on Tuesday, "I deeply regret that my pursuit of an activity I love and practice responsibly and legally resulted in the taking of this lion." He said he had hired professional local guides who secured hunting permits and believed the hunt was legal.
    By Wednesday afternoon, a petition demanding justice for Cecil had garnered more than 517,000 signatures and there were more than 6,200 messages about his practice on review site Yelp.
    "The big question is, why are you shooting a lion in the first place?" comedian Jimmy Kimmel said in his late night television show's opening monologue. "How is that fun? Is it that difficult for you to get an erection that you need to kill things? They have a pill for that...It will save you a lifetime of being the most hated man in America."
    Cecil, a rare black-maned lion and a popular attraction among many international visitors to the Hwange National Park, was reportedly lured outside the park's boundaries by bait and initially shot with a bow and arrow. But the arrow is said to only have wounded him and a conservation charity said it took 40 hours before Palmer and his guide tracked Cecil down and shot him dead with a gun....
Another report ["Minnesota dentist 'deeply' regrets 'taking' Cecil the lion," Mary Bowerman, USA TODAY] quoted Johnny Rodrigues, the chairman for Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, as saying:
The saddest part of all is that now that Cecil is dead, the next lion in the hierarchy...will most likely kill all Cecil's cubs so that he can insert his own bloodline into the females.
Peggy Payne has posted a new item, "New Tingles from an Odd Altered State." Excerpt:
I thought I'd heard of every route to an altered state, every alternative technology. Being married to a psychologist who specializes in clinical hypnosis
and writing a novel about kundalini would seem a pretty good start. But I've just run across a new method...or at least new to me.
    It's called ASMR; it reportedly can lead to fireworks bursts of tingly sensations in the head and to an easy slide into sleep.
People keep calling the Confederate flag their heritage and not racism, but that is not what the photo below of the "heritage" that these a******s in South Carolina are so proud of is saying [from the article "KKK, Black Panther Group Clash Over Confederate Flag Outside South Carolina Capitol," NBC News]:

Maricopa County Sheriff Arpaio's crimes have worsened since his predations described in Jim Rix's true crime book, Jingle Jangle: "Hundreds protest Arpaio in front of jail." [Emily L. Mahoney & Ben Margiott, The Arizona Republic] Excerpt:
The boom of drums and the shuffling of hundreds of feet echoed off the Phoenix skyscrapers near the headquarters of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office on Friday afternoon as protesters chanted, "Arrest Arpaio, not the people!"
    The protest, which began at the Phoenix Convention Center and ended at the sheriff's Sixth Avenue and Jackson Street headquarters, represented a collaboration of multiple organizations, including local human-rights group Puente Arizona and a conference for progressive leaders called Netroots Nation.
    The groups said they aimed for Sheriff Joe Arpaio's resignation, the end of "racist" deportations and the end of involvement of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers in county jails.
The beginning of the end for bite mark evidence! "A high-ranking Obama official just called for the “eradication” of bite mark evidence." [Radley Balko, The Washington Post] Excerpt:
This week, the fate of bite mark evidence took a [downward] turn. In her speech to open the conference, Jo Handelsman, assistant director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy called for the “eradication” of bite mark evidence. I’ve obtained an audio clip of her speech. Here’s a transcript of the relevant portion:
Two of the elements highly focused on in the report are that we need to have highly consistent data and methods, and we need to have a high degree of certainty in the results that we obtain in forensics science when we’re linking an individual to a crime scene or sample....
    One of the studies . . . is really quite disturbing. They showed variable conclusions among expert practitioners about whether in the example of bite marks the injury was in fact a bite mark, whether the marks were made by human teeth...or by animals, and whether the images of those marks were suitable for analysis.
    And interestingly, those who had more experience, the more experienced practitioners, showed more variability between the practitioners — they came to less agreement than the less experienced practitioners. So where in many fields we might say, well we just need people who have more experience, more of a feel for the data, in fact it goes the wrong way in forensics....
    Suggesting that bite marks [should] still be a seriously used technology is not based on science, on measurement, on something that has standards, but more of a gut-level reaction. Those are the kinds of methods that have to be eradicated from forensic science, and replaced with those that come directly out of science, and have the ability to stand up to the standards of scientific evaluation.
In last Saturday's NY Times articleThe Rise of Climbing,” Daniel Duane, an excellent older climber on the cliffs of Yosemite National Park, reports that the new climbing halls have incredibly improved the quality of young climbers. Mr. Duane turned up his nose at the aesthetics of indoor climbing until he found out that his young daughter learned fast and improved quickly and could climb well on real rocks and cliffs. Now he wholeheartedly supports this new sport. Unfortunately, it leads to long waiting lines below good climbs in nature, destroying the original fascination of how one could overcome the challenge of a cliff in solitary nature with just a friend or two. Has climbing been reduced to technique?

Cat thinking outside the box:

Peter Aspden's perceptive article in BBC Magazine, 24 July 2015, "Why the row between Greece and Germany is like a lovers' tiff," shows unusual appreciation of the neoclassical or Greek revival cultural movement started in Germany by the archaeologist Johann Joachim Winckelmann (1717-1768). JJW praised the "noble simplicity and serene greatness" (noble Einfalt und stille Groesse) of Greek sculpture and architecture, excellent norms which German society wanted to follow since the late 18th century. But today's Greece is different, deformed by Ottoman rule and poor government. German love has been sorely disappointed by present Greek failures. This article is an excellent interpretation.. Excerpt:
It has been quite a journey, this love affair we all have with Greece. And like all turbulent love affairs, it has left some serious metaphysical baggage behind. When Greece's critics, and especially Germany, complain today of a stubborn nation that refuses to leave its lax ways behind, is there not a feeling of betrayal in the air? Why can't modern Greece be more like the ancient Greece we so adored, it seems to ask. And when the Greeks make sarcastic references to the overbearing demeanour of Germany's politicians, do we not sense an underlying, deeply-repressed wish to be, well, just a little more Nordic in their approach to life? They have the sea, the sun, the olives - would a touch more organisation not make their lives easier?
    In the seemingly interminable discussions over Greece's financial crisis, we often hear hackneyed references to the "European ideal", as if it is some fixed table of values that establishes clear boundaries over our behaviour to one another. But it isn't. The skirmishes between Greece and Germany are nothing less than a battle over what that European ideal should be. Like those magical Socratic dialogues, it is an existential debate. Is it more important to be fun-loving, high-spirited, contemptuous of material things? Or do we choose the way of rigour, discipline, efficiency? The answer, of course, is to find a balance between those extremes. But where to draw the lines?
    Last summer, I had lunch in a beach-side taverna on the island of Ios, which I had last visited when it was a hippy haven in the 1970s. I asked the proprietor if he accepted credit cards, because I wanted to treat the family to the freshly-caught, and expensive, fish that was proudly displayed on the counter, but I was short of cash. Sorry, he said, he didn't do credit cards. But I could pay him tomorrow. Tomorrow was no good, I replied, because I was leaving the island, and couldn't return to the beach in time. No problem, he countered once more. If I left the money with a friend of his who ran the tobacconist opposite the port, that would be fine. But what if the ATM wasn't working, I asked anxiously? He laughed, and shrugged his shoulders. "In that case, lunch will be on me!" Hospitality – xenophilia – is the most prized of attributes in Greece. And tax evasion is one of its most self-defeating. I have thought about that restaurant and its owner many times over the past few months. He didn't seem to care very much about whether he received his cash from me, or not. In the event the ATM was working, and I found the tobacconist. But I couldn't help wondering, as a dutiful northern European, if the money would ever be declared on any kind of tax return. Was it an act of generosity, or dishonesty? Or both? And where on earth do you put that on an accountant's balance-sheet?
Nanosecond photo:

I used to be indecisive, but now I'm not so sure.

The Harper Lee ‘Go Set a Watchman’ Fraud.” [Joe Nocera, NY Times] Excerpt:
Perhaps it’s not too late after all to point out that the publication of Go Set a Watchman constitutes one of the epic money grabs in the modern history of American publishing.
    The Ur-fact about Harper Lee is that after publishing her beloved novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, in 1960, she not only never published another book; for most of that time she insisted she never would. Until now, that is, when she’s 89, a frail, hearing- and sight-impaired stroke victim living in a nursing home. Perhaps just as important, her sister Alice, Lee’s longtime protector, passed away last November. Her new protector, Tonja Carter, who had worked in Alice Lee’s law office, is the one who brought the “new novel” to HarperCollins’s attention, claiming, conveniently, to have found it shortly before Alice died.
    If you have been following The Times’s cleareyed coverage, you know that Carter participated in a meeting in 2011 with a Sotheby’s specialist and Lee’s former agent, in which they came across the manuscript that turned out to be Go Set a Watchman. In The Wall Street Journal — where else? — Carter put forth the preposterous claim that she walked out of that meeting early on and never returned, thus sticking with her story that she only discovered the manuscript in 2014.
    But the others in the meeting insisted to The Times that she was there the whole time — and saw what they saw: the original manuscript that Lee turned in [over 55 years ago] to Tay Hohoff, her editor....The Times’s account suggests an alternate scenario: that Carter had been sitting on the discovery of the manuscript since 2011, waiting for the moment when she, not Alice, would be in charge of Harper Lee’s affairs.
    That’s issue No. 1. Issue No. 2 is the question of whether Go Set a Watchman is, in fact, a “newly discovered” novel, worthy of the hoopla it has received, or whether it something less than that: a historical artifact or, more bluntly, a not-very-good first draft that eventually became, with a lot of hard work and smart editing, an American classic....
    In one of her last interviews, conducted in 1964, Lee said: “I think the thing that I most deplore about American writing … is a lack of craftsmanship. It comes right down to this — the lack of absolute love for language, the lack of sitting down and working a good idea into a gem of an idea.”
    A publisher that cared about Harper Lee’s legacy would have taken those words to heart, and declined to publish Go Set a Watchman, the good idea that Lee eventually transformed into a gem. That HarperCollins decided instead to manufacture a phony literary event isn’t surprising. It’s just sad.
Having a bad day?

The morning after the party:

In filling out an application, where it says, "In case of emergency, notify...," I answered "a doctor."

In Shakespeare's time, mattresses were secured on bed frames by ropes. When you pulled on the ropes, the mattress tightened, making the bed firmer to sleep on. Hence the phrase, "Goodnight, sleep tight."

I'm supposed to respect my elders, but it's getting harder and harder for me to find one now.

Limerick of the week:
When shirtless seniors look in the mirror,
Eliot's waste land couldn't be clearer:
    their wrinkled dugs
    are faces of pugs –
they are blind Tiresias* all the nearer.
* From The Waste Land, by T.S. Eliot:

I Tiresias, though blind, throbbing between two lives,
Old man with wrinkled female breasts, can see
At the violet hour, the evening hour that strives
Homeward, and brings the sailor home from sea,
The typist home at teatime, clears her breakfast, lights
Her stove, and lays out food in tins.
Out of the window perilously spread
Her drying combinations touched by the sun’s last rays,
On the divan are piled (at night her bed)
Stockings, slippers, camisoles, and stays.
I Tiresias, old man with wrinkled dugs
Perceived the scene, and foretold the rest—
I too awaited the expected guest.
Copyright © 2015 by Morris Dean


  1. I appreciate the correspondence; thank you, thank you, thank you! Wonderful stairs, outside the box, Cecil & his orphans, inducing altered states, "heritage" protection, bad sheriff, bad evidence, climbing halls good, lovers tiff in Europe, squirrel friends, not sure about indecisive, phony literary event, bad day in the pool, morning after, in case of emergency, sleeping tight, getting hard to find an elder, a waste land....

  2. Replies
    1. I just listened to The Tokens singing that song again. Shivers are still running all through my body.