Archive for July, 2011

Into The Great Wide Open

Je t’aime pour ta sagesse qui n’est pas la mienne
Pour la sante
Je t’aime contre tout ce qui n’est qu’illusion
Pour ce coeur immortel
Tu es le grand soleil qui me monte a la tete
Quand je suis sur de moi

—Paul Eluard


Five Feet Four

How High The Blue

My way with words, generally, is to deploy several thousand of them, in hopes of thereby somehow arriving at something like what I want to say.



I am envious of those who can say more with less. Such as Ezra Pound, in his poem “In A Station Of The Metro”:

The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.

Can’t beat that.

A couple days ago over in the Orange Place appeared a brief piece by Wee Mama that contains just about everything you need to know. I’m nicking it and reprinting it here because, well, people need to know it.


How Now Loud Plow

this one’s for my brother

Thanks to Captain Science, we now know that the loudest noise in all the animal kingdom is produced by a penis—99.2 decibels, blares the thing, sounding forth from that wee beastie monikered the lesser water boatman.

And really—does this surprise anyone? Surely if human males were able to produce noise with their members, all the world would be deaf.

The lesser water boatman, which is known as Micronecta scholtzi to the Latins among you, creates what actual Science Men have termed “this colossal acoustic din” by rubbing his johnson against the ridged surface of his abdomen.

The entire noise-making assembly measures about 50 micrometers across, or roughly the width of a human hair. Which should provide fresh meat for the perennial “does size matter?” debate.

The little loud guy starts rosining up his bow when—you guessed it—mating time comes around.

[The dude] can create mating calls as loud as 99.2 decibels, which is the equivalent of sitting in the front row of a loud, full-blown orchestra, or standing 15 meters away from a hurtling freight train.

“Remarkably,” said Stratchclyde University’s James Windmill, “even though 99 percent of sound is lost when transferring from water to air, the song is so loud that a person walking along the bank can actually hear these tiny creatures singing from the bottom of the river.”

The Science Men were at first Confused, but now are Sure. Says Windmill:

“We were very surprised. We first thought that the sound was coming from larger aquatic species such as a Sigara species [of] lesser water boatmen. When we identified without any doubt the sound source, we spent a lot of time making absolutely sure that our recordings of the sounds were calibrated correctly.

“If you scale the sound level they produce against their body size, Micronecta scholtzi are without doubt the loudest animals on Earth.”

The Science Men are rushing this discovery to a conference in Glasgow, where they “are now keen to bring together aspects of biology and engineering to clarify how and why such a small animal makes such a loud noise[.]”

Hell, the “why” of it is answered easily enough. Guy wants a woman.

George The Younger

Through the untimely deaths of his father and older half brother, George Washington had recently become the master of substantial plantation holdings in the Northern Neck and gained a somewhat firmer social footing. Washington’s connection with the greatest of the Northern Neck families, the Fairfaxes, had been strong enough to get him invited, five years before, to help survey Fairfax holdings in the Shenandoah Valley, and thus to begin acquiring the knowledge that had launched him on the complementary careers of surveyor and land speculator. Yet however highly Thomas, Lord Fairfax, may have regarded the young neighbor with whom he rode to the hounds, Washington never really amounted to more than a protegé.

His schooling had been haphazard, and much of what he knew beyond the basics that his tutors could provide he had taught himself by reading. He had always been, and would remain, an eager self-improver; but he lacked polish, and he would lose his sense of social unease with agonizing slowness. Certainly he had not lost it at age twenty-one, when he was still recognizably related to the adolescent who practiced his penmanship by copying out dozens of maxims from a comportment manual. “When in Company,” one admonished, “put not your Hands to any Part of the Body, not usualy Discovered”; “Spit not in the Fire,” warned another, “especially if there be meat before it.” He also found it necessary to remind himself to “Kill no Vermin as Fleas, lice ticks &c in the Sight of Others, [and] if you See any filth or thick Spittle put your foot Dexteriously upon it.”

—Fred Anderson, Crucible of War

Curly, Moe, And Barry

We are regularly confronted with evidence that that are many very dull knives in the American drawer: 20% of our fellows “know” that the sun revolves around the earth; 31% believe “the Bible is the actual word of God and is to be taken literally word for word”; 58% of Republicans aren’t convinced that Barack Obama is a United States citizen, while 52% identify as “true” the assertion that Obama “sympathizes with the goals of Islamic fundamentalists who want to impose Islamic law around the world”; and—brace yourself—46% of Americans believe that Adam and Eve actually rode dinosaurs to church, that is, that God “created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so.”

For many moons I have considered this last stat the most depressing, for in this one sweeping statement nearly half the country more or less blithely rejects all of the arts and all of the sciences, all at once.

Today, however, I am plunged further into gloom, because until this morning I had somehow managed to miss the results of this July 2006 survey, which revealed the following:

—while 77% of Americans can successfully name two of Snow White’s “Seven Dwarves,” only 24% could name two justices currently serving on the United States Supreme Court;

—some 60% of respondents correctly identified Krypton as the home world of Superman, but only 37% named Mercury as the planet closest to the sun;

—a similar 60% knew Homer to be the father of Bart Simpson, but only 21% could recall an epic penned by the Greek poet Homer;

—and 73% of fellow Americans could name all Three Stooges; only 42%, however, could identify the three branches of the federal government.

Jeebus wept.

Boys Will Be Boys

Sydney, don’t have a boy 16 years & 21 days old. He will go and enlist as a private soldier within a year after his older brother was killed in the front of battle. And he will hide in a city you don’t know of—& will conceal the name and number of the Battery into which he has fled . . . and thence will write you letters upon the patriotic duty of letting sons of pith and vim fight for their bleeding country &c &c &c—

And you will almost want to kill him.

—letter from Samuel Wilkerson to Sydney Gay, 1864

When I Worked

July 2011
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