Friday, October 30, 2015

Fish for Friday

Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

“My Dark California Dream” [Daniel Duane, NY Times] Excerpt:
Josh Churchman, a 63-year-old commercial fisherman who lives near Stinson in a legendary hippie hide-out called Bolinas, told me a story about sitting in his living room back in the early ’70s. A neighbor stopped by, offering to sell Mr. Churchman a nearby home for $20,000. “I had the money in cash, in the room, but I was building a new fishing boat so I turned him down,” Mr. Churchman says, in a California tale many times told. “In a single generation,” says Mr. Churchman, “my hometown went from where a guy like me could afford a home to ‘Not in your wildest dreams.’ ” As for the waters that gave Mr. Churchman a living, well, he hardly bothers fishing for salmon anymore, with the record low catch. [read more]
Representative Rob Bishop of Utah
“Against Nature” [Timothy Egan, NY Times] Excerpt:
In every town is preserved a pocket of the past, some scrap of nature yet unturned, a field where soldiers fell, or the childhood home of someone who tried to fix the unfixable. We’ve held onto these everyday brighteners of American life in large part because of one of the most successful bipartisan programs in history, a fund that takes nothing from taxpayers.
    I wish I could say it comes as a surprise, then, to report that the most feckless Congress in history has just allowed this program, the Land and Water Conservation Fund, to die. With it could go thousands of projects nurtured along by people who had hoped that the chaos of a political party in a high fever would not reach into their favorite places.
    But it has. Neighborhood playgrounds, walking trails bordering bustling cities, national parks, beaches, bridges, bike paths and birding sites are all imperiled by the imperious rigidity of a handful of congressional Republicans. For a half century, everything including the hugely popular Appalachian Trail and the memorial in Pennsylvania where Flight 93 went down on Sept. 11 has relied on money from this fund, generated by revenues from oil and gas leases.
    Watching Congress fall apart is amusing, in some quarters. Republicans can’t pass a budget without threatening to shut down the government. Brinkmanship has replaced compromise. They do witch hunts and show trials. They throw hissy fits and say crazy things on the cable channels. One member has already threatened to impeach Hillary Clinton if she wins the presidency. What they won’t do is govern....
    ...Representative Rob Bishop of Utah, chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee is the villain in this piece, a grim-faced ideologue who clearly doesn’t like public land or parks....
    Bishop is determined to do real harm, to many real places, using his power as a “bomb thrower,” as Ryan called the congressional radicals. He’s been petty and tyrannical when faced with pleas by other members to let the fund come up for a vote. This means that access to existing parks and trails, through private land that was slated for purchase through the fund, will be denied....
    Bishop has vowed that the fund won’t be renewed unless he can destroy the successful format that has been so crucial to the greater good. He’s suggested giving the money back to oil and gas companies....
    In a nutshell crammed with nutcases, this is your Congress. It’s a place that doesn’t work taking on something that does work, and killing it. [read more]
On the 31st of July I captured the rise of the Full Blue Moon in Aquarius. It was a beautiful sight to witness & lucky for me to capture in a time lapse. This video is made up of 1,038 frames & slowed down as close to real time as I could make it. I have been working on perfecting this type of time lapse for over a year now after seeing the work of a favorite photographer of mine. He helped by teaching me a few steps to get the image that I was looking for & furthering it by trying to get it in a time lapse motion. It has taken many attempts with many failures along the way, but I would have to say that this piece is my best attempt to date.
    To get this type of video, time lapse, or still image from where I captured it in Byron Bay, New South Wales, you need perfect weather conditions & also not much sea mist so that you don’t have too much haze blurring the view. Timing & location are essential also & for that I use the iPhone App “PhotoPills.” It is a great App & the team at PhotoPills are always there to help out if you can’t find what you want in the tutorials.
    The equipment I used to capture this was Canon 7D, Canon 600mm f/4 IS II & Canon 1.4 Extender giving me a focal length of 840mm – or 1,344mm if you take the cropped sensor of the Canon 7D into the equation.

I wonder whether Allah approves of this sort of thing. “Rising number of Muslims reporting dreams about Jesus” [Michael Carl, WND TV News] Excerpt:
“I was in the desert alone, lost. As far as the horizon, there was nothing in sight but sand. I felt the sand on my bare feet. Then I saw something extraordinary. In the midst of that barrenness, an immense wooden cross emerged from the earth, rising up with sand spilling from it back to earth.”
    So begins a dream narrative posted by Bosnian Muslim teenager Emina Emlonic. A dream about Jesus.
    It continues: “I felt then a spectator in my own dream, and the sight of the cross gave me neither fear nor joy. But I was a curious and began moving, almost floating, towards it, the most magnificent … thing I’d ever seen or imagined, and as I came closer to the cross, I suddenly saw a man walking toward me: a broad-shouldered, long-striding man, with a dark complexion, long hair, and wearing a white robe.
    “And just as suddenly I ceased to be a witness to my dream. I was in it, walking toward the man walking toward me. I knew him immediately. He was Jesus. Without knowing why, I fell to my knees. He stood over me and touched my face with his right hand.” [read more]
Moristotle is to be commended for having such a diverse editorial team: teachers, a scientist, a lawyer, a judge, an economist, a historian, a farmer, business people, world travelers, musicians, artists, an actor, a film producer, poets, a versifier, essayists, novelists, short story writers, movie critics, book reviewers, photographers, Christians and other theists, atheists, agnostics, and one or two or more who are religiously indifferent. Staff reactions to Matt Ridley's answers to the NY Times Book Review’s “By the Book” column will vary:
Which writers — novelists, essayists, critics, journalists, poets — working today do you admire most?
    Ian McEwan, Willis Eschenbach, Stewart Brand, Deirdre McCloskey, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Niall Ferguson, Richard Dawkins, David Quammen, Sam Harris, Bill Bryson. People like this are more than mere writers; they are the generators of new ideas through fine prose, the heirs to Voltaire.

What genres do you especially enjoy reading? And which do you avoid?
    I enjoy science, economics, history, biography, travel. I don’t really avoid anything, but I rarely read self-help, spiritualism, business or fantasy. Like many men I know, I read less fiction than I probably should: I get a special thrill out of reading about things that actually happened, or that are really true. Fiction, unless it is truly great, feels too much like playing tennis without the net....

Disappointing, overrated, just not good: What book did you feel you were supposed to like, and didn’t?
    Easy. The Bible. Not even the fine translations of William Tyndale, largely adopted by King James’s committee without sufficient acknowledgment, can conceal the grim tedium of this messy compilation of second-rate tribal legends and outrageous bigotry. [read more]
The Leshan Giant Buddha – Cliffs of Mount Lingyun. Sichuan

“How Salad Can Make Us Fat” [Alex Hutchinson, “Gray Matter” column, NY Times] Excerpt: from more than 1,000 shoppers, matched to their purchases at checkout, revealed a clear pattern: Drop a bunch of kale into your cart and you’re more likely to head next to the ice cream or beer section. The more “virtuous” products you have in your basket, the stronger your temptation to succumb to vice....
    ...the “licensing effect”....
    ...Our choices are contingent: Since we each have a fairly stable self-concept of how good/bad, healthy/unhealthy or selfish/altruistic we are, when one decision swings too far from this self-concept, we automatically take action to balance it out....
    ...The only foolproof way to defeat the licensing effect is to hold yourself to a higher standard when you’re making health decisions. Stick to the well-proven basics and tune out the noise of the commercial health-promotion industry, whose ever-optimistic mantra is “It might help … and it can’t hurt.” That’s a nice thought, but it’s almost always an illusion. [read more]
North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis
It hurts more when this sort of thing happens right in one’s own state. One hopes that Dallas Woodhouse will be prosecuted for criminal fraud. “A New Low in Campaign Finance” [Robert Maguire, NY Times] Excerpt:
In 2014 the group [Carolina Rising, a 501(c) (4) social welfare organization,] spent $4.7 million on ads that had one thing in common: touting the legislative accomplishments of Thom Tillis, who was then North Carolina’s speaker of the House. That year, Mr. Tillis also happened to be trying to unseat Kay Hagan, the incumbent Democratic senator....
    John Koskinen, the I.R.S. commissioner, [was' scheduled to testify [on October 27] before the Senate Finance Committee at yet another hearing on the agency’s heightened scrutiny of certain politically active 501(c)(4) groups in 2010-12. But what we should really be paying attention to is the increasing use of dark money to influence our elections, and the rising number of groups that devote themselves to a single candidate (including several, already, in this cycle’s presidential campaign). Before the 2014 campaign, nonprofits like that didn’t exist....
    Dallas Woodhouse, the Republican consultant who ran Carolina Rising, did away with any further pretense when he was interviewed live by a local news channel at the Tillis campaign’s election-night victory celebration. Sporting a Thom Tillis hat, Mr. Woodhouse, who was named executive director of the state’s Republican Party last month, was asked about his group’s spending “a whole lot of money to get this man elected.”
    Mr. Woodhouse responded, “$4.7 million. We did it.”
    Yet less than a year later, when it came time for Carolina Rising to report its activities to the I.R.S., it said it had not engaged in “direct or indirect political campaign activities on behalf of or in opposition to candidates for public office.”...
    Carolina Rising has no credible claim to being a social welfare organization. But the key thing to remember here is that Carolina Rising is not an outlier. It’s a trailblazer. In 2014, it was one of a new breed of politically active nonprofits that sprang up to assist a single candidate’s bid for a seat in Congress, with money from donors whose identities don’t have to be revealed....
    Has Carolina Rising set the bar low enough for either the F.E.C. or the I.R.S. to say, finally, that enough is enough? [read more]
“London underground’s poster campaign offends commuters, and poetry” [Zeljka Marosevic, Melville House] Excerpt:
Anyone travelling on London’s underground for the past few months will be familiar with the series of tube etiquette posters that are now ubiquitous. You’ve seen them plastered on station walls and they’ve stared back at you from inside the carriages. They form the Travel Better London campaign, and feature illustrated poems which remind passengers to be courteous to other commuters and follow the Transport for London rules, and have annoyed everyone since they first appeared....
    After doing some research, it seems [many of the poems] are the result of a competition run by Transport for London. It appears the poems were submitted by members of the public, and the best ones were given the honour of being bitched about by millions of commuters on a daily basis. Involving the public is a nice idea, but was there no poet editor on hand to brush them up before they ruined our daily commutes? As Poet Laureate, isn’t that a job Carol Anne Duffy could have done? [read more; see more examples: “The crappy world of Transport for London’s advice poetry” and “Fancypants London is using poetry to urge proper transit manners]
“Lion turns the tables on illegal hunters by killing man looking to shoot him” [Express] Excerpt:
Authorities reported a group of five men hunting without licences was attacked by the big cat at a private game farm near the Kruger.
    Matome Mahlale, 24,was killed....
    A local said: “There won't be many people feeling sorry for him. This is seen as poetic justice for the death of Cecil.” [read more]
Only in Australia:

I hope that you haven't noticed more such moments of forgetfulness occurring lately, although that is not particularly reliable evidence, since the further gone a senior gets the less likely he or she is to remember anything about the most recent senior moment...until virtually every moment becomes a senior moment as the senior’s mind drains down the rabbit hole of senility.

Limerick of the week:
His aging heart and mind could barely manage home;
when his wife bade him vacation with her to Rome
    to throw coins in fountains,
    click love locks on mountains,
he told her she should go and let him stay at home.
Copyright © 2015 by Morris Dean


  1. Today's limerick is NOT autobiographical. We are not going to Rome; we do not condone attaching love locks to public bridges (and no one so far as I know has attached one to a mountain); and my heart and mind are as sound as the next person's my age.

  2. Love the moon. And there is the saying, "As Cali goes so goes the rest of the country."

    1. Actually. doesn't the saying go this way: "As Cali goes so goes the rest of the WORLD"?

  3. Oh! I was going to say something about the limerick, but forgot what the hell it was.

    1. Ed, maybe you need to re-read the fish above the limerick: "I hope that you haven't noticed more such moments of forgetfulness occurring lately, although that is not particularly reliable evidence, since the further gone a senior gets the less likely he or she is to remember anything about the most recent senior moment...until virtually every moment becomes a senior moment as the senior’s mind drains down the rabbit hole of senility."

  4. Thanks for the pointer to the Ridley interview. I enjoy his work, and learned that his reading tastes and mine intersect over a large range. I don't know when I'll get all his suggestions read. On the other hand, he spouted off about climate change twice during the interview. Despite a lack of apparent qualifications, he is extremely sure of himself on this. And demonstrably wrong.

    1. Chuck, I meant to comment on this when I first saw it, but it got away from me. I, too, was befuddled by Ridley's references to climate change. In the case of the one criticizing Al Gore, I figured that he was just ragging on something about Mr. Gore's way of presenting, or possibly enlarging on, the facts (I don't know whether he enlarged on anything or not). In the case of the second one, I didn't know enough (or much of anything) about Steve McIntyre and Ross McKitrick with which to draw any conclusions, but I did form an impression that he might possibly be in some sort of climate-change denial – I mean denial of the role played by anthropos.