Archive for August, 2010

Holy Ghost

Enough Is Enough

Victor said, “I read in the paper about two dolphins trying to drown a man in Greece or someplace. You always hear about noble dolphins saving someone from drowning. Not this time; they were pushing him out to sea. I asked myself what was different about this poor bastard. It turned out he was Russian, naturally, and maybe a little drunk. Why does the reverse of the normal always happen to us? Maybe the dolphins had rescued him a dozen times before. Enough was enough.”

—Martin Cruz Smith, Three Stations

Eggman Slags Lloyd

The Drudge Report is a fetid sewer of lies. Owned and operated by an illiterate closeted troglodyte known as The Eggman, its sole purpose is to sound as carny barker for the seamiest elements of the Republican Party. The truth is not in it. Those who rely on it as anything other than a running indicator of the current obsessions of the racists and retroverts who infest the rightbent precincts of this nation, are fools.

Though his page is always a monument to mendacity, occasionally The Eggman will gird his shriveled loins and stoop below even himself. It is as if he is out to prove that, in his world, the Well of Wrongness knows no bottom.

Today has been one of those days. As of this writing, The Eggman has featured for more than eight hours a story out of Fox News that is a flat-out falsehood. The placement of this story on The Eggman’s site has already caused the hebephrenic hate-show host Michael Savage to have a near-stroke right on the air; assuredly, more of his fellow clowns on the AM dial will burst blood vessels come the morn.

The Fox lie that The Eggman is joyfully smearing across the intertubes, from where it then spreads, as it always does, into and out of the many putrid orifices of the rightwing noise machine, is that John Cusack—a.k.a. Lloyd Dobler—has called for the “satanic death” of Fox News, as well as a couple of GOoPer has-beens.

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Haas Hears A Who

Scientists searching for “lost amphibians” have discovered the Old World’s smallest frog, living in carnivorous pitcher plants in the jungles of Borneo.

As in the Dr. Seuss fable Horton Hears a Who, the pea-sized creatures were detected only because of the sound they made.

According to Malaysian herpetologist Indaeil Das, who discovered the frog with his colleague Alexander Haas of Germany, it was the wee beasties’ “harsh rasping notes” at dusk that drew their attention.

“We heard the calls of this frog and we knew the calls of all frogs in the area and this was different,” Das told AFP. “At first we couldn’t see it, but eventually we found it. I had to trap the frog in one of my baby son’s clean white diapers in order to really see what it looked like, it was so tiny.”

“You often get tiny frogs making quite a noise,” confirmed herpetologist Robin Moore, who is leading expeditions worldwide bent on rediscovering a hundred species of “lost amphibians” declared extinct. Das will join Moore in Indonesia in September, to search for the Sambas stream toad, last seen in the 1950s.

The frog heard by Haas and Das had not previously been classified; museum specimens collected more than a hundred years ago were misidentified as juveniles of another species.

The frog has been dubbed Microhyla nepenthicola, in honor of the Nepenthes ampullaria species of miniature pitcher plant that it needs to breed.

Although the micro-beast is “definitely the tiniest [frog] in Asia, Africa and Europe,” says Das, it is not as small as this frog, Eleutherodactylus iberia, which lives in Cuba, and as yet has no English common name.

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Peasant Palate: Knead Long And Prosper

The science people, they are always wondering: why don’t the French die?

The cheese they eat. The meat. The butter. The cream. The wine, and drinking it, all the live-long day. Why don’t their arteries fill with filth, causing them to keel over, gasping, ushered into death via coronary heart disease, like normal Americans?

There are many answers to this question. The first concerns the “Big Gulp.” Americans seem to believe that bigger is better. You think we would have learned by now, with our military. Though for more than 60 years the American military has been by far the biggest bully on the block, it hasn’t managed to prevail in any armed conflict since the close of World War II, with the exception of that little dustup in Grenada . . . and even there it was nearly run off the island by a handful of Cuban engineers. Oh, and Panama. Where the “bands of brothers” buzzed blithely around leveling hospitals, in pursuit of their own CIA agent, and incidentally abrogating the treaty that returned the Panama Canal to the people of the country in which it is located.

Anyway. Americans like their food, like their military, big. Big portions. Big steaks. Big drinks. But, just as our big military is killing us, so too are our big meals. When Americans eat, they eat too much. Which is bad for you. And Americans snack. All the time. Which is also bad for you.

The French do neither. The concept of the “Big Gulp” is unknown in that country, except in the hideous fast-food joints which Americans have imperialistically forced upon them, and which French patriots destroy whenever they get the opportunity. The French do not snack, and the portions they consume, when at table, are moderate.

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The Weight

As if the planet were not already under enough stress, now we learn that more than 30% of the people in 9 southern states here in the US are clinically obese. This is up from 25% just three years ago. Meanwhile, over 25% of the people in 38 states nationwide are obese. In 28 of these states, people are fatter today than they were a year ago.

Gravity exercises constant pressure on the earth; to this we must now add additional pressure from millions of lumbering fat people. As global warming inevitably raises the level of the oceans, so too shall global fattening lower the level of the land. Not good.

Animals, at least those in the wild, don’t become obese. A person may think an animal looks fat, but that’s simply a mistake in percep-tion. Sea lions may appear pretty obese, but in truth these creatures are built that way for a reason: to thrive in waters cold enough to freeze to death a human being in less than five minutes. Bears in winter go into the den “fat” so they don’t have to get up and eat for six months; when they emerge in the spring, they’re pretty darn gaunt. And grumpy. A mallard may seem to be carrying a lot of weight there in the chest: well, you try flying 3000 miles, under your own power, and then tell me how much poundage you’d like up there.

Ever notice that those motorized carts in grocery stores are these days occupied less by disabled people than by people so obese that they really ought to think twice about purchasing all those groceries? Animals are not able to avail themselves of these sorts of “fat carts.” An obese rabbit can’t crank up a fat cart to flee faster into the brush; s/he just becomes dinner. Just as an obese hawk will go without dinner.

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Fat City

My short-story teacher at the University of Oregon was a guy named J.B. Hall. He was a controversial character there because he wore white shoes. At that time, wearing white shoes meant that you were either a faggot or a commie, or maybe both. Anyway, he at one time pointed out to me a part in a short story called “Soldier’s Home” by Hemingway in which this guy Krebs has come home from the war and he’s sitting there in the morning wondering what to do with the day—whether to go watch his sister play indoor baseball or just exactly what. His mother wants him to go get a job, but he doesn’t want to move. As he’s sitting there, he watches the bacon fat harden on his plate. And J.B. Hall says, “See, that’s what it is. There’s where it happens; right there.” And I saw it. I saw, “Right! That’s what it’s about! That’s what literature is about!” And a door opened up to me and it’s never been closed. I thank this man from the bottom of my heart. It’s a turn-on like—it has nothing to do with intelligence. It has to do with somebody grabbing somebody and saying, “I know something that’s good. I’ll give it to you for nothing. You’ll have it all your life.”

—Ken Kesey, “Earthshoes & Other Remarks”


When I Worked

August 2010
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