Friday, September 4, 2015

Fish for Friday

Edited by
Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

Over 60% of Americans think owning a gun will make their lives safer. But are they sure? [3:27]

Dr. Oliver Sacks (1933 – August 30, 2015). Video provided by NY Times article "Oliver Sacks, Casting Light on the Interconnectedness of Life." [ Michiko Kakutani] [1:59]

"With numerous books to his credit, including the 1985 bestseller The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales, Sacks was arguably the nation's most famous neurologist. His writing combined the accuracy of a clinician, the sensibility of a novelist and the empathy of a friend. [emphasis ours] In the process, he made the vast world of neurological conditions accessible to average readers."
    That paragraph is from the LA Times: "Oliver Sacks, neurologist and bestselling author, dies at 82." [Jocelyn Y. Stewart]

How does a robin know to fly south? The answer might be weirder than you think: Quantum physics may be involved. Jim Al-Khalili rounds up the extremely new, extremely strange world of quantum biology, where something Einstein once called “spooky action at a distance” helps birds navigate, and quantum effects might explain the origin of life itself.
    Watch Jim Al-Khalili's June 2015 TED talk: "How quantum biology might explain life’s biggest questions." [16:09]

Donald Trump understands: "...about Republicans." [Thomas B. Edsall, NY Times] Excerpt: "A half-century of Republican policies on race and immigration have made the party the home of an often angry and resentful white constituency — a constituency that is now politically mobilized in the face of demographic upheaval."

You may have seen one of the many parodies of scenes from Downfall [about Hitler and the end of the Third Reich]. I have mixed feelings seeing such a moving performance turned into a laughingstock. But what the hell. After all, Hitler himself said: "What good are you if you can't laugh at yourself now and then." [3:49]

About seventy years ago [or thereabouts], a lady in Wisconsin, who had worked hard in and around her family dairy farms since she was old enough to walk, had done so with little compensation. When canned Carnation Milk became available in grocery stores in the 1940's, she read an advertisement offering $5,000 for the best slogan. The producers wanted a rhyme beginning with "Carnation Milk is best of all."
    She thought to herself, I know everything there is to know about milk and dairy farms. I can do this!
    She sent in her entry, and several weeks later, a black car pulled up in front of her house. A large man got out, knocked on her door, and said, "Ma'am, the president of Carnation milk absolutely LOVED your entry, so much, in fact, that we are here to award you $1,000 even though we will not be able to use your entry for our advertisements!"
    He did, however, have one printed up to hang on his office wall:

The annual Herbstfest (fall festival) is taking place in Rosenheim [near Munich, in Bavaria]...Many young people dress in traditional Alpine style from their towns – Lederhosen (leather pants) for men and Dirndl (tight bodice, full skirt with apron of the Tyrolean/Alpine peasant dress) for women.
    The bodice of women's dresses is tight to expose cleavage and attract the attention of unmarried men. In peasant language, and still used commonly today, a woman with big cleavage is said to have "viel Holz vor der Huettn" – much wood stacked before the shed.

    [See many more images on "Herbstfest Rosenheim" website.]

Prom night, 1957

Chris Hedges [American journalist, activist, author, and Presbyterian minister] on a certain type of magical thinking [1:58]:

Salt mine - Russia

Limerick of the week:
Chef Benjamin has been working awfully hard,
"80 hours per week" was stamped upon his card.
    but now he'll take off Mondays,
    the same as he does Sundays -
an extra day to rest in his back yard.

Copyright © 2015 by Morris Dean


  1. Good fish. Guns for fun or a can opener for milk.

  2. Ed, thanks for your constant support and encouragement for this column, as well as for your submissions of fish over the weeks. Anonymity prevents me from revealing whether you submitted any of this batch: Do guns make you safer? Remembering Oliver Sacks, quantum biology, understanding Trumped, Hitler parody, rewarded but unused Carnation milk ad, Lederhosen & Drindl season in Bavaria, prom night, magical thinking? Salt mine in Russia, Chef Benjamin to rest an extra day....

  3. As a devout follower of Oliver Sacks, I was saddened by his passing. Not so much for him. My sadness is the sadness of many loved ones who mourn, not for the passing of a fulfilled, meaningful life, but for our own loss of a beloved presence. In evidence I cite here the last lines of his comments in the New York Times written upon receiving the terrible news.

    "I cannot pretend I am without fear. But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved; I have been given much and I have given something in return; I have read and traveled and thought and written. I have had an intercourse with the world, the special intercourse of writers and readers."

    May it be true of us when our final hour comes round at last that sweet death finds us in favor with the needy and the just of this world and at peace within our own spirit.

    "Now cracks a noble heart.—Good night, sweet prince,
    And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!"
    Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure."

    1. Bob, my own breast flutters to be reminded, by your thoughtful comment, of my own hours in Oliver Sacks's presence through the reading of his work. Thank you.