2 3 live&learn&rejoice: 2011

December 24, 2011

more ho-ing, less eating

. . . no gluwein, no egg nog, no fudge (insert all chocolates here), no dressing, no bread, no grazing, no desserts, no sweet potatoes with dessert toppings

. . . no weight gain to bitch about next week & beyond

December 22, 2011

celebrate winter solstice

more daylight coming to a city near you soon

December 20, 2011


to all the folks i've offended by editing their work in the past, pls take a moment to view a galley proof by honore de balzac . . . editing really is your friend. . . .

December 19, 2011

not just another pretty face

male wood duck
in lithia park upper pond
does life get any better than this?

December 18, 2011


One central argument of Curious?, a new book by the psychologist Todd Kashdan, is that it's possible, in principle, to develop a sense of curiosity about anything at all - and that doing so may be the only viable path to fulfilment. This isn't always going to be easy. But it's not particularly hard when talking to Kashdan himself: his curiosity-piquing job title is director of the Laboratory for the Study of Social Anxiety, Character Strengths, and Related Phenomena at George Mason University, Virginia. Apart from anything else, I was curious about the width of his business cards.

Curiosity, Kashdan writes, isn't about "whether we pay attention, but how we pay attention to what is happening" - an orientation that seeks what's novel in a situation, rather than what's pleasant, and embraces uncertainty, rather than struggling for closure and control. (He cites numerous benefits, including tentative evidence that exercises to inculcate curiosity may stave off Alzheimer's.) The book is full of studies such as one in which an 18-year-old bodybuilder, among others, is induced to try crocheting. The researchers' conclusion: when asked to focus on the novel aspects of an experience they believe they'll dislike, people are more likely to return to it, voluntarily, later on.

We all pay lip service to the value of curiosity, but it is usually only lip service, especially in the world of self-help. Because if curiosity means being open to the unfamiliar, and to whatever emotions may result, then arguably any strategy for achieving happiness - for guaranteeing happy feelings, rather than sad ones - is intrinsically incurious. And such strategies don't work, Kashdan says, because we're socially and genetically hard-wired to adapt to experiences, whether good or bad. Create a life that thrills you, and the thrill will fade as it becomes familiar. Work on developing curiosity, by contrast, and you'll stand a better chance of resisting adaptation - because to become curious is, precisely, to train yourself to seek what's unfamiliar.

Crucially, though, this needn't mean pursuing the most bizarre experiences possible: you can avoid becoming the kind of person who boasts of travelling to ostentatiously obscure locations, or whose hobbies take 15 minutes to explain. Curiosity is a quality of attention, not a property of specific objects. "We don't realise that curiosity doesn't have to be about, say, waiting until we meet some really interesting person who's wearing a T-shirt of a band I love," Kashdan told me. "Instead, I can actually wield this curiosity, and seek what's intriguing about my world ... about people I think I know everything about, or someone I've been married to for 20 years."

That's not to say exciting experiences don't have a role. One of the most striking findings in Curious? is how much more lasting marital satisfaction couples report after undertaking novel, exciting activities together - from meeting new people to jetskiing - than after pleasant and relaxing, but familiar activities. The point, it seems, is that there's novelty in every situation if we look for it, but there's no harm in making the task easier by remembering to do plenty of new things. "As long as something is novel," Kashdan says, "we are still in the process of finding and creating meaning." And "finding and creating meaning" may be as good a definition of fulfilment as I've yet encountered.


And if you are still curious about being curious, check this out: http://ceicuriosity.tripod.com/

tis the season

  • Gliding. Start out marching, then stand on two feet and let yourself glide. Once you’ve mastered the two-foot glide, start transferring your weight to one leg at a time and picking up the other for a one-foot glide.
  • Stroking. Now that you’ve mastered the one-foot glide, start alternating back and forth. This is called stroking. A good ice skating tip for beginners at stroking is to start with short, quick glides before you try to balance on one leg for long.
  • Swizzles. This easy skating technique involves propelling yourself forward without bringing your feet off the ice. Start with your heels together, toes pointed forward and out. Slide your feet apart, then bring your toes together. Repeat the motion so your path looks like an hourglass. Master these forward and backward.
  • Crossovers. Designed to help you skate around corners, you can practice these in a hockey circle by placing your outside skate over your inside skate as you glide around the corners.

December 16, 2011


“I sympathize afresh with the mighty Voltaire,” Mr. Hitchens wrote in Vanity Fair in October 2010, “who, when badgered on his deathbed and urged to renounce the devil, murmured that this was no time to be making enemies.” (per washington post story 12/16/2011)

Shortly before he died in Paris, Wilde quipped to a female friend: "My wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One or the other of us has to go." (much disputed quote, but true per story in cnn.com and really let's all just go with it, it's fun)

"Et tu, Brute" . . . Shakespeare's Julius Caesar.

December 14, 2011

be kind

. . . whenever possible.
it's always possible.

dalai lama

December 13, 2011

lillian schwartz


lillian schwartz exhibited her digital art at moma in nyc in 1968.
she continues to create digital art and has also used her knowledge of colors and pixels to restore old italian masters.
it's all quite a story.

December 12, 2011

freezing or frozen?

Freezing fog occurs when liquid fog droplets freeze to surfaces, forming white soft or hard rime.[22] This is very common on mountain tops which are exposed to low clouds. It is equivalent to freezing rain, and essentially the same as the ice that forms inside a freezer which is not of the "frostless" or "frost-free" type. The term "freezing fog" may also refer to fog where water vapor is super-cooled, filling the air with small ice crystals similar to very light snow. It seems to make the fog "tangible", as if one could "grab a handful".
Frozen fog (also known as ice fog) is any kind of fog where the droplets have frozen into extremely tiny crystals of ice in midair. Generally this requires temperatures at or below −35 °C (−30 °F), making it common only in and near the Arctic and Antarctic regions.[23] It is most often seen in urban areas where it is created by the freezing of water vapor present in automobile exhaust and combustion products from heating and power generation. Urban ice fog can become extremely dense and will persist day and night until the temperature rises. Extremely small amounts of ice fog falling from the sky form a type of precipitation called ice crystals, often reported in Barrow, Alaska. Ice fog often leads to the visual phenomenon of light pillars.

The phenomenon is also extremely common in the inland areas of the Pacific Northwest . . .


December 11, 2011

a next thing

a new way to merge print and video, stay tuned to the end of the clip to see super cool examples, http://vimeo.com/32880682

but is it art?

google chrome has a store & in that store there is a sumo paint app & in that app there is a symmetry tool that is great fun to use & wouldn't it be more appropriate if the word were spelled syymmettrryy?

December 7, 2011

December 6, 2011

dis or un * interested

A bored person is uninterested. Do not confuse this word with the much rarer disinterested, which means “objective, neutral.”

December 5, 2011

winter solstice 2011

. . . in the days of great change we will each go through being put into the great sieve and shaken up, letting everything that does not support your highest self and greatest good fall away. Not one of us can escape this.

sanitary bathrooms

December 3, 2011

December 2, 2011

too cool for school

justice afghan style

this is the government that the USA is supporting in afghanistan

NY Times
December 1, 2011
For Afghan Woman, Justice Runs Into Unforgiving Wall of Custom


KABUL, Afghanistan — When the Afghan government announced Thursday that it would pardon a woman who had been imprisoned for adultery after she reported that she had been raped, the decision seemed a clear victory for the many women here whose lives have been ground down by the Afghan justice system.

But when the announcement also made it clear that there was an expectation that the woman, Gulnaz, would agree to marry the man who raped her, the moment instead revealed the ways in which even efforts guided by the best intentions to redress violence against women here run up against the limits of change in a society where cultural practices are so powerful that few can resist them, not even the president.

The solution holds grave risks for Gulnaz, who uses one name, since the man could be so humiliated that he might kill his accuser, despite the risk of prosecution, or abuse her again.
The decision from the government of President Hamid Karzai is all the more poignant coming as Western forces prepare to leave Afghanistan, underscoring the unfinished business of advancing women’s rights here, and raising questions of what will happen in the future to other women like Gulnaz.

Indeed, what prompted the government to act at all was a grass-roots movement that began after Gulnaz was featured in a recent documentary film commissioned by the European Union, which then blocked the film’s release.

Supporters of the filmmakers charged that European officials were shying away from exposing the sort of abuses Afghan women routinely suffer for fear of offending their host government.

While Gulnaz’s pardon is a victory for both Clementine Malpas, a filmmaker who spent nearly six months on the documentary, and for Kimberley Motley, an American lawyer here who took Gulnaz’s case on a pro bono basis, it also shows that for women in the justice system, the odds are stacked against them.

The banned film, “In-Justice: The Story of Afghan Women in Jail,” which was seen by The New York Times, profiles three Afghan women who were in prison. One was Gulnaz, then about 19, who gave birth to the child of her rapist in prison, after initially being sentenced to three years. In a second trial, her sentence was increased to 12 years, but a judge on camera offered her a way out: marry her rapist.
A second woman in the film was abused by her husband and ran away with a man she fell in love with; both are now in prison for adultery. The third woman was a child of 14, who appeared to have been kidnapped but was held as a runaway and has since been returned to her family.

After the film was completed, the European Union banned its release, effectively silencing the women who were willing to tell their stories. The reason given for the ban was that the publicity could harm the women, because an Afghan woman who has had sex out of wedlock can easily become the victim of a so-called honor killing. The women had not given their written consent to be in the film, said Vygaudas Usackas, the European Union’s ambassador to Afghanistan.

But an e-mail obtained by The Times from someone supportive of the filmmakers suggested that the European Union also had political reasons for the ban.

The e-mail addressed to the filmmakers by the European Union attaché for justice, the rule of law and human rights, Zoe Leffler, said the European Union “also has to consider its relations with the justice institutions in connection with the other work that it is doing in the sector.”

Even if the women in the film “were to give their full consent,” the European Union would not be “ willing to take responsibility for the events that could ensue and that could threaten the lives of the documentary’s subjects,” the e-mail said.

Mr. Usackas said that concern for the women was central in the European Union’s decision. “Not only does the E.U. care about women, but we have spent over 45 million euros,” about $60 million, “in support of different programs for women,” he said, adding that the European Union also finances shelters for women.

Word of the film’s suppression percolated through human rights groups here to the point that many in the nascent Afghan women’s movement were referring to the victims by name and discussing what would be best for them, given the strictures of Afghan society. Some people circulated a petition urging Gulnaz’s release and gathered more than 6,000 signatures, which were delivered to Mr. Karzai.
Although human rights advocates came down emphatically on the side of broadcasting the documentary, Afghan women’s advocates were more cautious, having been stung by previous cases.
In 2010, there was widespread publicity of the case of Bibi Aisha, a Pashtun child bride, whose nose was cut off by her Taliban husband; it backfired. Conservative Afghan leaders started a campaign against the nonprofit women’s shelters, one of which had helped Bibi Aisha. They came close to shutting down the shelters, which would have been a huge loss for abused women who have no other refuge.

“When we write or produce articles or movies on Afghan women, no matter how horrible the life of Afghan women is, and we know that is the reality of Afghan women, we want to be very careful not to make the situation worse,” said Samira Hamidi, country director of the Afghan Women’s Network.

“We don’t want to block the way for other women who have similar problems and who don’t have anyone to help them,” Ms. Hamidi said.

But to not show the plight of Afghan women is to reduce the possibility that the government and the society will ever change.

“It is our position in the human rights community that one of the best ways to highlight a human rights issue is to let the victims speak and to publicize what has happened to them to a wide audience,” said Georgette Gagnon, an official with the United Nations mission in Afghanistan.

The problem for Gulnaz and the other women in the film is the deeply held belief that women uphold their family’s honor. Thus any attempt to expose abuse is so humiliating to the family that a woman who speaks out often becomes a pariah among her relatives, ending up isolated as well as abused.
Gulnaz’s case shows the power of cultural norms. On the one hand, the public campaign for the woman prompted the pardon, which ensures that she will be able to bring up her daughter outside prison. On the other hand, the fact that the only imaginable solution to the situation of a woman with an illegitimate child is to have her marry the father — even if he is a rapist — is testament to the rigid belief here that a woman is respectable only if she is embedded within a family.

Ms. Malpas said that Gulnaz talked to her about why she felt that she had to give in to requests that she marry the man who raped her, even though she did not want to, explaining that not only would she be an outcast if she did not, but so would her daughter, and she would bring shame on her family.
“Gulnaz said, ‘My rapist has destroyed my future,’ ” Ms. Malpas said, recounting their conversation. “ ‘No one will marry me after what he has done to me. So I must marry my rapist for my child’s sake. I don’t want people to call her a bastard and abuse my brothers. My brothers won’t have honor in our society until he marries me.’ ”

But, mindful of her safety, Gulnaz also said that if she were to marry her rapist she would demand that he make one of his sisters marry one of her brothers, Ms. Motley, the lawyer, said.

This practice, known as “baad,” is a tribal way of settling disputes. But in this case it would also be an insurance policy for Gulnaz since her rapist would hesitate to hurt her because his sister would be at the mercy of Gulnaz’s brother.

Both Ms. Malpas and Ms. Motley said that a shelter had been found for Gulnaz and that they hoped she would go there. But whether such a Western option can prevail over Afghan custom — and whether Gulnaz will choose it — is far from clear.

Sangar Rahimi and Rod Nordland contributed reporting.

November 30, 2011


if they do exist, then we shouldn't eat them.

if they do not exist, then there is no question of eating them.

--the wisdom of zadig as told by voltaire whose real name was
(drum roll please)
francois-marie arouet


November 28, 2011

library security

in unseen academicals by terry pratchett, books are chained in order to prevent them harming their users.

November 25, 2011


"robber" is one of over 1000 words and phrases in english that the pakistani telecommunications regulators deems undesirable and that will be blocked in text msgs.*

makes sense to me. i think it is worthy of not only emulation but expansion because it's good to be more careful with words. people use colors in vague ways, for example so i vote that we decree all use of color-related words as undesirable, even undemocratic. people say baby blue when really they mean sky blue and then there are the complete misfits who do not know the difference. this is confusing to everyone so let's just eliminate all color words and let everyone just form their own mental picture of what something looks like without the intrusion of someone interpreting a color. messy or neat are other highly subjective words that lead to ill will and therefore should be banned. in fact, adjectives in general lead to gross misunderstandings and should be abolished. your big is my average size, your obese is my fat, and so on and so forth. nouns too specific and have become pretentious as well as misleading. somebody refers to their briefcase vs their bag vs their purse and you wonder how many words they are going to put in your face that day. it's all very passive aggressive. let's just all agree that these objects are all bags and let the other words go as they are just cluttering our daily lives and disturbing the zen-like state of simplicity in which we normally live. so only top of the noun charts survive, all these other words are unnecessary and do nothing to improve the quality of life. perhaps a committee of highly paid federal employees should be commissioned to study the whole word thing with the goal of reducing the dictionary to just 1000 or so essential words. i like that. think of the implications -- schools wouldn't have to go on and on and on for years teaching vocabulary, you could knock those lessons out quickly if the dictionary weren't so huge. i mean big. and really the committee can decide whether we stick with big or large; hard or difficult...but really we can just choose one and everyone agree to use it. the possibilities, as our wordy friend voltaire might say, are endless.


November 21, 2011


the word "soundscape" was coined by composer R. Murray Schafer to identify sounds that "describe a place, a sonic identity, a sonic memory, but always a sound that is pertinent to a place" (Wagstaff, G. 2000).

tokyo -- "irrashaimase"

trekking in nepal -- "nemaste. mitai."

hong kong -- the clicking of mahjong tiles

patagonia -- wind blowing

antigua, guatemala -- firecrackers popping

airports -- that infernal loop about baggage being watched all the time


November 20, 2011

tom the turkey in ashland

Elevation: 1951 feet
Land area: 6.50 square miles

lowest snow levels for Cascades is @3500 feet, but last week Ashland got a good snow flurry. realizing that items left in the car have natural refrigeration and that boots are not just for appearances. My first real winter, here we go.

November 19, 2011

November 17, 2011

san francisco . . .

. . . would be a good location for a murder mystery.

--Alfred Hitchcock


November 16, 2011

goa stone

Goa stones are named after their place of origin, Goa in India. They are artificially manufactured versions of bezoar stones, which are found in animal stomachs. Goa stones are made from a combination of clay, silt, shells, resin and musk and are typically spherical in shape. Scrapings from Goa stones mixed with water were drunk as a remedy for numerous ailments, including plague. They were also placed in drinks to counteract suspected poisoning. They were highly valued and could change hands for enormous prices. This stone has a case made from interwoven gold threads to give its ornate pattern.

one of many objects "brought to life" online by the Science Museum in London...how fun it is to be able to sit in a small town in Oregon and explore world culture,  http://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/broughttolife/objects/display.aspx?id=4571

November 14, 2011


 the following is a time killer & really nothing productive will come of staring at it...you have been warned:

at least it's not wednesday

according to NY Times article:
A few years ago, a pair of researchers published ''A Corpus-based Approach to Finding Happiness'' (American Association of Artificial Intelligence, 2006). This paper analyzed words found in a selection of blog posts, looking for patterns in the use of ''happy'' and ''sad'' words. The authors determined that 3 a.m. and from 9 to 10 p.m. were the happiest times of the day, and that Saturday was the happiest day of the week (Wednesday was the saddest). Happy words, they noticed, are more likely to be connected to social activity than sad words are, so sitting at home alone on a Wednesday is obviously inadvisable.
so is this saying i should stay up at least til 10 pm and get up by 3 am to maximize my happiness? in which case are we saying that sleep-deprived humanoids are the happiest? for me, it seems that i am sleeping through my happiest times as i tend to be asleep by 9pm but don't get up until about 4am. have i been cheating myself of happiness lo these many decades?

November 13, 2011

November 11, 2011

23,000 times a day

@  # of breaths
the average person takes

what % of those breaths are with deliberate intent?

November 7, 2011

impossible to understand

how does a graduate student at penn state fail to scream out when he believes he sees an adult sexually abusing a child of 10 years old? how does this graduate student not spontaneously interrupt what he thinks is a molestation happening right before his very eyes? how does he not try and protect this kid? how does he not instinctively step in to stop what he clearly thinks is an adult having sexual contact with a minor? it is impossible, absolutely impossible to understand his inaction.

this graduate student supposedly witnessed the abuse as it was happening and he didn't feel compelled to stop it. he chose to call his parents and follow their insipid instructions rather than stop violence to a child right before his eyes.

to his credit, he did later call it to the attention of penn state authorities, who opted to do nothing. their inaction protects their mega-athletic empire and given the recent history of the catholic church and the boy scouts and given america's love affair with college sports, it's not terribly shocking that the suits did nothing to upset their precious program. disgusting, yes, surprising, not so much.

but for the graduate student to see a grown man assaulting a pre-teen boy and to do nothing but leave the building is unimaginable and inexplicable.

absolutely impossible to understand his inaction. impossible.


November 2, 2011

the frog & the dog

Furi-ike ya
Kawazu tobikomu
Mizu no oto.*

non-literal translation with a personal addition because basho of course needs expounding upon, he'd approved:

into the old pond
a frog suddenly plunges
the sound of water
and the Bean loudly barking
another day starts

*the kanji version and the romanji version don't exactly match, such is life with google translator but i *think* the romanji version is the true translation and the kanji version, well close counts in horseshoes and haiku

October 31, 2011

song of the witches

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and caldron bubble.
Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the caldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Adder's fork and blind-worm's sting,
Lizard's leg and howlet's wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and caldron bubble.
Cool it with a baboon's blood,
Then the charm is firm and good.

October 29, 2011

what do you know?

“Well, Art is Art, isn't it? Still, on the other hand, water is water. And east is east and west is west and if you take cranberries and stew them like applesauce they taste much more like prunes than rhubarb does. Now you tell me what you know.”
--groucho marx

October 27, 2011

way not to err

sonnet 73

That time of year thou mayst in me behold When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruin'd choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou seest the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west,
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death's second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see'st the glowing of such fire
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the death-bed whereon it must expire
Consumed with that which it was nourish'd by.
This thou perceivest, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.

October 26, 2011

way to err


(Internet, slang) an emphatic (intentional) use of the acronym OMG.

[The "z" was originally a mistake while attempting to hit the shift key with the left hand, and type "OMG".]

October 25, 2011


when people get aflutter about the violence in today's movies and the lack of morality flaunted in tv shows, they might consider the story of perseus, a hero celebrated by the ancient greeks, and accept that for some reason violence and immorality have been wildly entertaining for many moons and really no reflection on the dismal state of affairs in our times. . . or perhaps they might remain aflutter, that is another way to go.

His story was as follows:--Perseus' mother Danae was locked in a bronze chamber by her father Akrisios, where she was impregnated by Zeus in the form of a golden shower. Akrisios put both mother and child in a chest and set them adrift in the sea, but they washed safely ashore on the island of Seriphos. Later when Perseus was grown, King Polydektes, command he bring back the head of Medousa. With the help of the gods, Perseus first obtained an invisible helm, magical sword, and winged sandals. He then stole the single eye of the Graiai, three ancient hags, who told him where to find the Gorgones. The hero approached the sleeping Medousa, and beheaded her with eyes turned away, to avoid her petrifying visage. On his way back to Greece, he spied the princess Andromeda chained to the rocks as a sacrifice to a sea-monster. Perseus slew the monster, and rescued the girl, bringing her back to Greece as his bride. On Seriphos, he turned King Polydektes to stone, then travelled to his grandfather's kingdom to claim the throne. The old man fled, and was later accidentally killed by Perseus at some Games with an awry discus throw

October 24, 2011

william andrews clark memorial library

houses the world’s most extensive archival collection on Oscar Wilde

October 23, 2011

how 'bout them apples?

the dwarf wooly meadowfoam (Limnanthes floccosa ssp. pumila) grows nowhere else on Earth but on the top of both Table Rocks in Southern Oregon

info & photo courtesy of:

October 10, 2011

self-deceit vs delusional behavior vs deceit

book review below courtesy of the guardian, http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2011/oct/07/deceit-self-deception-robert-trivers & this is timely considering all the hoopla surrounding the release of jaqueline kennedy's "open and honest" interviews that were kept sealed until recently.

jackie o is perhaps one of the biggest fakes that ever lived. was it all a staged dog and pony show w/jackie the consummate actress who never took five or had she deluded herself into believing the charade she presented to the world? who knows. this author & i share the same impression of miss jackie in any event, http://www.thesmartset.com/article/article10051101.aspx and her story and this book review beg the question of what is reality. or perhaps, more accurately, it might merely suggest that question w/ begging being an unseemly exaggeration.

So here is the guardian's book review:

Lying is second nature to us and under the influence of self-delusion we'll hang ourselves if given enough rope. Robert Trivers is one of the few scientists able to take command of an evolutionary perspective on subterfuge, and in his new book Deceit and Self-Deception: Fooling Yourself the Better to Fool Others, he does exactly that.

His overarching premise is that if we can only see our own point of view, we can authentically argue our case because our deceits blind us to the truth. Ignorance can be bliss, until you are outwitted by a perspective you don't share.

Trivers explains how natural selection favours self-deception. His vision of deceit encompasses the self, others, the family and even international relations. But Trivers doesn't just wade through the toxic quagmire of human relationships. As the narrative progresses, there's treachery at every level, from the micro of proteins encoded by an individual's genes to the macro of war.

Trivers is a hero to students of evolutionary research. The notion that altruistic behaviour was "good for the species" had pervaded evolutionary teaching during the first half of the 20th century. In the 1960s the British naturalist Bill Hamilton corrected this error by highlighting the effect of natural selection upon individual genes. Trivers was influenced by Hamilton and the two men pioneered the selfish gene theory. His research in the early 1970s on reciprocal altruism and parental investment strategies has since become the Rosetta Stone for anyone studying social behaviour.

Evolved sex differences, runaway sexual selection and the importance of symmetry in the evolution of sexual preference were all flagged up and theorised on by Trivers, laying the foundations for Sarah Hrdy, Frans de Waal, Edward O Wilson and Richard Dawkins (Trivers wrote the foreword for The Selfish Gene) to popularise his ideas.

In Deceit and Self-Deception, Trivers synthesises all of his research, including the discovery of a clear correlation between lying and reduced immunity. He also contextualises the deception of the placebo effect (which peaks with unnecessary surgery), explains the self-deceit of airline pilots thinking they are more skilled than they are (Trivers is not a happy flyer), and explores the phenomenon of our thinking we are better looking than we actually are.

There are also fascinating examples of deceit in nature, such as the amazing parasitic blister beetles that combine as one organism to mimic a female bee and deceive male bees into "mating" with two thousand parasites.

After forty years of research Trivers wrote Deceit against the backdrop of a global economic meltdown caused by self-deceived, over-confident egoists grossly out of touch with reality, and when he explains how the human male drive for power and control correlates with ignorance and self-delusion, your blood runs cold. Trivers uses Donald Rumsfeld as a fine example of delusional over-confidence. According to the logic laid out in Deceit it is possible that some men in positions of responsibility are, due to their deceits, actually in need of someone to take responsibility for them.

Trivers has structured Deceit in such a way that you can dip into any chapter in any order, use it as a reference book, or as I did, devour it from cover to cover. In the preface he states that deceit is "a depressing subject", but thanks to his memoir style, which frequently reads more like a hilarious confessional than a traditional work of science, any sobering lows are subverted with personal anecdotes. His admissions of petty thieving, "inadvertent touching" and other disasters with women, of police searching the boot of his car and confrontations with squirrels are as funny as they are revealing of the man himself.

He recalls, for example, how he tried to fool the Rorschach inkblot test used by Harvard to decide whether to readmit him after a breakdown. He couldn't remember what was considered an "appropriate" response so decided to randomise his answers.

Trivers's candid style is disarming, though of course such self-deprecation could be a double-bluff, particularly in a book devoted to deceit.

Recently Trivers has been in London promoting the book and I went to the Royal Society of Arts to hear him talk and to interview him. Words like "motherfucker" trip off his tongue where others might bite theirs. But as he told me, "I'm of the age now when I don't care any more." Unfortunately the chair, Donald Rowson, who was strictly following the time allocated for his talk before the Q&A, didn't know this in advance and interrupted him. When a clearly disgruntled Trivers said he wanted to finish his sentence before beginning the Q&A, Rowson unwisely argued against this and was promptly labelled a "rude motherfucker", earning him a round of applause from the audience.

Trivers was worn out by the time I interviewed him after the talk. He'd recently undergone hip replacement surgery and was in too much pain to even sit, so he stood while I asked questions. He said the reason he thinks his mind has remained so active at nearly 70 years of age is that after blazing a trail in the early stage of his career he then chose to tackle an even harder subject of genetics in his middle years, culminating with his book Genes in Conflict.

"You think you're gonna whip genes into shape but they whip you into shape!"

Returning to Deceit, I asked Trivers (who by this time was testing his back pain by balancing a chair on his head) why the word empathy was missing from the book. "Empathy is a very important part of deceit and that's one thing I've regretted, not researching empath. It's not sympathy, it's feeling another's feelings. Long ago I spoke to Bill [Hamilton] about it, I said 'What about empathy Bill?' and he said, 'What's empathy?' As if it didn't exist, as if there was no such thing, so I didn't bother with it." But had Trivers included empathy in his research, the drawn-out impasse between the selfish gene theorists and their critics might have been avoided.

Deceit is an exhilarating read: the intertwined issues of deceit and self-deception are infinite, involving positive and negative outcomes for the fool and the fooled – roles that can reverse and revert without your even knowing. Trivers opens Deceit with the statement: "My hope is to engage you in applying these concepts to you own life and developing them further."

If we want to understand how and why we unconsciously fool ourselves, then his is an honest offer we can't refuse.

October 9, 2011

no birds for you

my google mapblast had me travel down dirt roads that ultimately led to this dead end instead of the wildlife refuge. and in the spirit of zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance, tried to enjoy the journey regardless of the fact that i've never been in a place with fewer birds . . . which, despite my profoundly good intentions, was disappointing since i was out birding.



October 7, 2011


notecards with msgs like "okay, here's the poop" and "just doo it" made from cow dung.

it would seem that cows do not digest the grass that eat all that well and so their poo has lots of fiber & so somebody somewhere decided to market cow poopoopaper.

will we ever look at cows the same way again?

will they ever look at us the same way again?

October 6, 2011


illimarfik is the university of greenland & translates to place of wisdom


Birds are flyin' south for winter.
Here's the Weird-Bird headin' north,
Wings a-flappin', beak a-chatterin',
Cold head bobbin' back 'n' forth.
He says, "It's not that I like ice
Or freezin' winds and snowy ground.
It's just sometimes it's kind of nice
To be the only bird in town."

byShel Silverstein

September 25, 2011

borges the poet

el bastón, las monedas, el llavero,
la dócil cerradura, las tardías
notas que no leerán los pocos dias
que me quedan, los naipes y el tablero,
un libro y en sus páginas la ajada
violeta, monumento de una tarde
sin duda inolvidable y ya olvidada,
el rojo espejo occidental en que arde
una ilusoria aurora. Cuántas cosas,
limas, umbrales, atlas, copas, clavos,
nos sirven como tácitos esclavos,
ciegas y extranamente sigilosas!
Durarán más allá de nuestro olvido;
no sabrán nunca que nos hemos ido.

September 23, 2011

animal forensics lab

tucked in the little town of ashland, oregon is the only forensics lab in the world dedicated exclusively to solving crimes against wildlife . . .

April 2, 2003

Admirers call it "the wild world's Scotland Yard" whose scientists are "animal detectives."

Crimes against wildlife include illegal hunting, trafficking in endangered species, and producing and selling products made from endangered or threatened species. The task of sleuthing and solving these crimes falls to a federal laboratory in Ashland, Oregon.

The National Fish and Wildlife Forensics Laboratory is the only lab in the world dedicated to solving wildlife crimes. The lab's mission is to provide forensic support for wildlife managers and investigators thus stopping criminals and protecting animals—often endangered species.

The lab works with federal agents, the 50 State Fish-and-Game commissions and the roughly 155 countries that are signatories to CITES—the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora—that oversees trade in wild plants and animals.

Every year the lab—currently a team of 33—handles about 900 cases.

"In a wildlife crime laboratory your evidence is often a carcass," says Ken Goddard, director of the lab since it opened in 1989, a former homicide detective in San Bernardino County, California and a prolific thriller novelist whose eighth novel "Outer Perimeter" was published by Bantam Books in 2001.

"We get pieces and parts—hides, furs, shoes, purses, ivory carvings, a lot of caviar," says Goddard. "When you start getting into the small pieces, strips of leather for watch band, chunks of meat, carvings of ivory, you've lost all those species-defining characteristics that made that evidence obviously from an elephant (for example)."

Forensics Park

The job of the lab is to determine the species source and analyze forensic evidence that could link it to a violation of wildlife law—and a human suspect. Occasionally the job requires forensics experts to testify in court or venture into the field when collecting the evidence is tricky. A particularly unusual case, says Goddard, occurred in 1991 when 300 headless walruses washed up on the Alaska coastline.

Caviar samples represent about one third of the lab's caseload. During the last three years, federal agents have seized about $180 million worth of caviar, inundating the lab with samples for testing.

The lab is always cautious when accepting new samples from public sources. "Our work annoys a lot of people, from organized crime/the Russian Mafia to caviar connoisseurs and even to the fashion trade," Goddard says. Though they have not received any dangerous packages, threatening phones calls are not uncommon.

To identify the species of a victim, the lab maintains what the scientists call, "Forensics Park," a warehouse of stuffed animals and animal parts—hides, claws, teeth, feathers—to serve as references to help identify creatures. There are 5000 complete, or almost complete, animals in the collection and more than 30,000 blood and tissue samples.

Within the "Park" the heads of hundreds of creatures hang on chicken wire mesh on the wall. Full-size stuffed animals, looking like they escaped from museum dioramas, stand scattered around the floor. Drawers are crammed full with parts, pelts, bones, ivory and feathered wings.

Tiger Bone Potions, Rhino Horn Pills

"When you walk in the door you see hundreds and hundreds of heads staring at you—species from all over the world," Goddard says. "It is macabre and fascinating all at the same time."

The Forensics Park collection, mostly specimens donated by zoos after the animals died, helps the scientists determine the authenticity of illegally traded animal products.

"I see an awful lot of fakery in wildlife forensics," says Bonnie Yates, a senior forensics scientist at the lab. When it comes to traditional restorative products and aphrodisiacs many pills and potions bare little in common with their label.

Chinese medicines provide a particularly intriguing category of evidence. "Things like tiger bone potions and rhino horn pills—they are almost always fake," says Goddard.

Given that a rhino horn can fetch $75,000 on the black market, faking the powers and potions is easy—especially since nobody but a scientist could detect the switch.

Occasionally the scientists have discovered that species that are declared new are actually hoaxes.

"This little guy is one of the best fakes yet," says Yates. "It is a mouse deer of the genius Tragulus, but mouse deer don't have antlers. We took an X-ray of this one and found they are little antlers that have been dyed red and then carved into a hole that has been drilled into the head of this little mummified mouse deer."

Poaching Gets Tougher

Yates speculates that the discovery of a new type species of deer in Vietnam in the late 1990s inspired some innovative locals to keeps the supply of new species flowing—even if it involved building them with drills and glue.

Forensics scientists use hair and feather samples to link an animal to the crime scene. They can also use the same analytical techniques to tie a human suspect to the crime. Ballistic comparisons and fingerprints play a role in tracking outlaws. DNA examinations are evidence in about 15-20 percent of cases.

"If a hunter washes his clothes after he has been on an illegal hunt, then I might be able to find hair in the dryer lint and so I'll mount the hair from the dyer lint and I'll take one of my comparative standards," says Yates.

Goddard has a word of warning for anybody who might commit a crime against a creature.

"It used to be easy to get away with killing an animal," he says. "Well, things have changed. This laboratory can track you down years later. We can detect a little bit of blood on your clothing invisible to the naked eye and match it back to that killed animal with absolute statistical certainty."

September 22, 2011

the book of judith

who knew?

this from http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-the-story-of-judith-and-holofernes.htm:

The story of Judith and Holofernes is, like the story of David and Goliath, an Old Testament tale of the oppressed vanquishing the oppressor, or virtue conquering vice. For this reason, both David and Judith were considered antecedents of Christ in the kind of Biblical analysis called typology, where Old Testament events bear some relation to the New Testament’s narrative of salvation. Judith, whose name means simply "Jewish woman," is a rare Biblical heroine, in a story from the Apocrypha in the Bible, who took violent action to save her people.

The encounter between Judith and Holofernes is at the center of the Book of Judith, a brief and likely non-historical account of Assyrian aggression against the Jews. The Assyrian general Holofernes laid siege to the city of Bethulia, and soon the inhabitants began to agitate for surrender. A rich widow named Judith, however, conceived a plan. That evening, dressed in her finest clothes and perfumed with ointment, she passed through the gate with her maid and walked across the valley to the encampment of Holofernes. There, she explained to the guards that she wanted to provide the general with information about the best means of entering Bethulia.
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When she was admitted to his presence, Judith explained that the siege had caused the Jews to turn away from their religion, and so they therefore merited destruction. She maintained that God himself had sent her on this errand. All of this pleased Holofernes very much, as did Judith’s appearance. Judith and Holofernes came to an agreement: he would not harm her, and she would be allowed to leave the camp at night for prayer. This, Judith claimed, would allow her to learn from God exactly when the city should be attacked. For three days, Judith stayed in the camp, eating only the food her maid prepared and carried with her in a cloth sack.

On the fourth night, Holofernes held a banquet for his servants, and he invited Judith, whom he had come increasingly to admire. Judith came dressed in her finest clothes and also took with her the fleece she had been given to sleep on. Happy with her there, Holofernes drank quite a lot, more than he’d ever drunk in his life, and far too much to retain consciousness. Everybody but Judith and Holofernes left the tent. Alone with the drunkenly sleeping general, Judith prayed for strength. Then she took hold of his sword, and, in two strokes, cut off his head. Her maid, waiting outside the tent, came in with the food sack. Judith put Holofernes’ head in the sack, and the two women left the camp upon what seemed to be their nightly errand of prayer.

This time, however, they kept walking. At the gate of Bethulia, she called for entry, showed her trophy, and told the men to mount an attack on the Assyrian camp next morning. They did so, and when the Assyrians ran to Holofernes’s tent to rouse him, they found their leader headless. Horrified, the Assyrians decamped. The Israelites plundered the camp; all the best things of Holofernes were given to Judith, who then passed them to her late husband’s heirs.

Both the story of Judith and Holofernes and that of David and Goliath became important within Christian imagery of the Renaissance and Baroque periods. That Judith and Holofernes are today much less commonly known than David and Goliath has to do with both the source of each story, and the larger significance of the protagonist of each. The Book of Judith is one of the apocryphal books of the Bible: it is omitted from the canonical Protestant versions, although is remains a part of the Catholic text. The Book of Judith, then, has far less currency than The Book of Samuel, a canonical book of the Bible in all Christian sects, and the source of David and Goliath’s story.

Further, that King David was an ancestor of the Virgin Mary was of great significance in the medieval and later periods, and made all of his actions of great consequence. Judith, however, was not connected to the genealogy of Christ, and, after her great victory, returned to the ordinary life of a widow.

September 21, 2011

the false hemlock . . .

. . . more commonly referred to as the douglas-fir is hyphenated to indicate that it is not a real fir tree.


wikipedia further advises that douglas-firs are a "taxonomically complex species"

whatever, it is the state tree of oregon & whatever the classification means or doesn't mean, clearly an awe-inspiring tree (hyphenated, of course, to designate that one of these trees doesn't inspire real awe):

September 20, 2011


had a bad day? yeah, well, me too.

so think about the long term.

here is a list of famous people born in 1880.

if you're like me, you don't recognize one name.

so much for fame . . .

so focus on what matters and

that is

whatever you want it to be so

what the hell

make it matter. let the mistakes of the day go.

let the joy of life seep to the surface.

but yeah well enough...here's the list.

sorry if you recognize someone on this list

because then the whole msg of this post is clearly totally wrong.

maybe it's best to disregard the actual list.

and just go forward with the idea.

yes, that's it.

emigrant lake

. . . so called (i believe?) because that's the term pioneers used for themselves . . . at least that's my conclusion from reading the donner party, a surprisingly interesting read.

self-portrait at emigrant lake

September 18, 2011

i love (shakespeare's) holofernes

 . . . & by that very decree
with respect
do imitate thee . . .*

*yes, i am reading love's labor's lost & no, i was not rooting against judith in caravaggio's holofernes

September 10, 2011

September 9, 2011


. . .literally translates to "dislike of sound" is a physiological abnormality that resides in brain structures activated by processed sound, specifically soft, hardly audible sounds like when people chew food, when dogs lick their paws, or even the way people pronounce "p" in normal conversation.

no known effective treatment.

you never outgrow it. adults learn to structure their lives around it.

you can join a group to know you are not alone, http://soundsensitivity.info/english/

September 4, 2011

night & moonlight

henry david thoreau's piece as printed in The Atlantic Monthly Magazine November 1863, pp. 579–83 . . .

Chancing to take a memorable walk by moonlight some years ago, I resolved to take more such walks, and make acquaintance with another side of Nature. I have done so.

According to Pliny, there is a stone in Arabia called Selenites, "wherein is a white, which increases and decreases with the moon." My journal for the last year or two has been selenitic in this sense.

Is not the midnight like Central Africa to most of us? Are we not tempted to explore it,—to penetrate to the shores of its Lake Tchad, and discover the source of its Nile, perchance the Mountains of the Moon? Who knows what fertility and beauty, moral and natural, are there to be found? In the Mountains of the Moon, in the Central Africa of the night, there is where all Niles have their hidden heads. The expeditions up the Nile as yet extend but to the Cataracts, or perchance to the mouth of the White Nile; but it is the Black Nile that concerns us.

I shall be a benefactor, if I conquer some realms from the night,-- if I report to the gazettes anything transpiring about us at that season worthy of their attention,—if I can show men that there is some beauty awake while they are asleep,—if I add to the domains of poetry.

Night is certainly more novel and less profane than day. I soon discovered that I was acquainted only with its complexion; and as for the moon, I had seen her only as it were through a crevice in a shutter, occasionally. Why not walk a little way in her light?

Suppose you attend to the suggestions which the moon makes for one month, commonly in vain, will it not be very different from anything in literature or religion? But why not study this Sanscrit? What if one moon has come and gone, with its world of poetry, its weird teachings, its oracular suggestions,—so divine a creature freighted with hints for me, and I have not used her,—one moon gone by unnoticed?

I think it was Dr. Chalmers who said, criticizing Coleridge, that for his part he wanted ideas which he could see all round, and not such as he must look at away up in the heavens. Such a man, one would say, would never look at the moon, because she never turns her other side to us. The light which comes from ideas which have their orbit as distant from the earth, and which is no less cheering and enlightening to the benighted traveller than that of the moon and stars, is naturally reproached or nicknamed as moonshine by such. They are moonshine, are they? Well, then, do your night-travelling when there is no moon to light you; but I will be thankful for the light that reaches me from the star of least magnitude. Stars are lesser or greater only as they appear to us so. I will be thankful that I see so much as one side of a celestial idea, one side of the rainbow and the sunset sky.

Men talk glibly enough about moonshine, as if they knew its qualities very well, and despised them,—as owls might talk of sunshine. None of your sunshine!—but this word commonly means merely something which they do not understand, which they are abed and asleep to, however much it may be worth their while to be up and awake to it.

It must be allowed that the light of the moon, sufficient though it is for the pensive walker, and not disproportionate to the inner light we have, is very inferior in quality and intensity to that of the sun. But the moon is not to be judged alone by the quantity of light she sends to us, but also by her influence on the earth and its inhabitants."The moon gravitates toward the earth, and the earth reciprocally toward the moon."The poet who walks by moonlight is conscious of a tide in his thought which is to be referred to lunar influence. I will endeavor to separate the tide in my thoughts from the current distractions of the day. I would warn my hearers that they must not try my thoughts by a daylight standard, but endeavor to realize that I speak out of the night. All depends on your point of view. In Drake's "Collection of Voyages," Wafer says of some Albinos among the Indians of Darien,—"They are quite white, but their whiteness is like that of a horse, quite different from the fair or pale European, as they have not the least tincture of a blush or sanguine complexion. . . . . Their eyebrows are milk-white, as is likewise the hair of their heads, which is very fine. . . . . They seldom go abroad in the daytime, the sun being disagreeable to them, and causing their eyes, which are weak and poring, to water, especially if it shines towards them; yet they see very well by moonlight, from which we call them moon-eyed."

Neither in our thoughts in these moonlight walks, methinks, is there "the least tincture of a blush or sanguine complexion,"but we are intellectually and morally Albinos,—children of Endymion,—such is the effect of conversing much with the moon.

I complain of Arctic voyages that they do not enough remind us of the constant peculiar dreariness of the scenery, and the perpetual twilight of the Arctic night. So he whose theme is moonlight, though he may find it difficult, must, as it were, illustrate it with the light of the moon alone.

Many men walk by day; few walk by night. It is a very different season. Take a July night, for instance. About ten o'clock,—when man is asleep, and day fairly forgotten,—the beauty of moonlight is seen over lonely pastures where cattle are silently feeding. On all sides novelties present themselves. Instead of the sun, there are the moon and stars; instead of the wood-thrush, there is the whippoorwill; instead of butterflies in the meadows, fire-flies, winged sparks of fire!—who would have believed it? What kind of cool, deliberate life dwells in those dewy abodes associated with a spark of fire? So man has fire in his eyes, or blood, or brain. Instead of singing birds, the half-throttled note of a cuckoo flying over, the croaking of frogs, and the intenser dream of crickets,—but above all, the wonderful trump of the bull-frog, ringing from Maine to Georgia. The potato-vines stand upright, the corn grows apace, the bushes loom, the grain-fields are boundless. On our open river-terraces, once cultivated by the Indian, they appear to occupy the ground like an army,—their heads nodding in the breeze. Small trees and shrubs are seen in the midst, overwhelmed as by an inundation. The shadows of rocks and trees and shrubs and hills are more conspicuous than the objects themselves. The slightest irregularities in the ground are revealed by the shadows, and what the feet find comparatively smooth appears rough and diversified in consequence. For the same reason the whole landscape is more variegated and picturesque than by day. The smallest recesses in the rocks are dim and cavernous; the ferns in the wood appear of tropical size. The sweet-fern and indigo in overgrown wood-paths wet you with dew up to your middle. The leaves of the shrub-oak are shining as if a liquid were flowing over them. The pools seen though the trees are as full of light as the sky."The light of the day takes refuge in their bosoms,"as the Purana says of the ocean. All white objects are more remarkable than by day. A distant cliff looks like a phosphorescent space on a hill-side. The woods are heavy and dark. Nature slumbers. You see the moonlight reflected from particular stumps in the recesses of the forest, as if she selected what to shine on. These small fractions of her light remind one of the plant called moon-seed,—as if the moon were sowing it in such places.

In the night the eyes are partly closed, or retire into the head. Other senses take the lead. The walker is guided as well by the sense of smell. Every plant and field and forest emits its odor now, swamp-pink in the meadow, and tansy in the road; and there is the peculiar dry scent of corn which has begun to show its tassels. The senses both of hearing and smelling are more alert. We hear the tinkling of rills which we never detected before. From time to time, high up on the sides of hills, you pass through a stratum of warm air: a blast which has come up from the sultry plains of noon. It tells of the day, of sunny noon-tide of hours and banks, of the laborer wiping his brow and the bee humming amid flowers. It is an air in which work has been done,—which men have breathed. It circulates about from wood-side to hillsides like a dog that has lost its master, now that the sun is gone. The rocks retain all night the warmth of the sun which they have absorbed. And so does the sand: if you dig a few inches into it, you find a warm bed.

You lie on your back on a rock in a pasture on the top of some bare hill at midnight, and speculate on the height of the starry canopy. The stars are the jewels of the night, and perchance surpass anything which day has to show. A companion with whom I was sailing, one very windy, but bright moonlight night, when the stars were few and faint, thought that a man could get along with them, though he was considerably reduced in his circumstances,—that they were a kind of bread and cheese that never failed.

No wonder that there have been, astrologers,—that some have conceived that they were personally related to particular stars. Du Bartas, as translated by Sylvester, says he'll

"not believe that the Great Architect
With all these fires the heavenly arches decked
Only for show, and with these glistering shields,
T' awake poor shepherds, watching in the fields,"—
"not believe that the least flower which pranks
Our garden-borders or our common banks,
And the least stone that in her warming lap
Our Mother Earth doth covetously wrap,
Hath some peculiar virtue of its own,
And that the glorious stars of heaven have none."

And Sir Walter Raleigh well says,"The stars are instruments of far greater use than to give an obscure light, and for men to gaze on after sunset"; and he quotes Plotinus as affirming that they "are significant, but not efficient"; and also Augustine as saying,"Deus regit inferiora corpora per superiora": God rules the bodies below by those above. But best of all is this, which another writer has expressed:"Sapiens adjuvabit opus astrorum quemadmodum agricola terra naturam": A wise man assisteth the work of the stars as the husbandman helpeth the nature of the soil.

It does not concern men who are asleep in their beds, but it is very important to the traveller, whether the moon shines brightly or is obscured. It is not easy to realize the serene joy of all the earth, when she commences to shine unobstructedly, unless you have often been abroad alone in moonlight nights. She seems to be waging continual war with the clouds in your behalf. Yet we fancy the clouds to be her foes also. She comes on magnifying her dangers by her light, revealing, displaying them in all their hugeness and blackness,—then suddenly casts them behind into the light concealed, and goes her way triumphant through a small space of clear sky.

In short, the moon traversing, or appearing to traverse, the small clouds which lie in her way, now obscured by them, now easily dissipating and shining through them, makes the drama of the moonlight night to all watchers and night-travellers. Sailors speak of it as the moon eating up the clouds. The traveller all alone, the moon all alone, except for his sympathy, overcoming with incessant victory whole squadrons of clouds above the forests and lakes and hills. When she is obscured, he so sympathizes with her that he could whip a dog for her relief, as Indians do. When she enters on a clear field of great extent in the heavens, and shines unobstructedly, he is glad. And when she has fought her way through all the squadron of her foes, and rides majestic in a clear sky unscathed, and there are no more any obstructions in her path, he cheerfully and confidently pursues his way, and rejoices in his heart, and the cricket also seems to express joy in its song.

How insupportable would be the days, if the night, with its dews and darkness, did not come to restore the drooping world! As the shades begin to gather around us, our primeval instincts are aroused, and we steal forth from our lairs, like the inhabitants of the jungle, in search of those silent and brooding thoughts which are the natural prey of the intellect.

Richter says, that "the earth is every day overspread with the veil of night for the same reason as the cages of birds are darkened, namely, that we may the more readily apprehend the higher harmonies of thought in the hush and quiet of darkness. Thoughts which day turns into smoke and mist stand about us in the night as light and flames; even as the column which fluctuates above the crater of Vesuvius in the daytime appears a pillar of cloud, but by night a pillar of fire."

There are nights in this climate of such serene and majestic beauty, so medicinal and fertilizing to the spirit, that methinks a sensitive nature would not devote them to oblivion, and perhaps there is no man but would be better and wiser for spending them out of doors, though he should sleep all the next day to pay for it, should sleep an Endymion sleep, as the ancients expressed it,—nights which warrant the Grecian epithet ambrosial, when, as in a land of Beulah, the atmosphere is charged with dewy fragrance, and with music, and we take our repose and have our dreams awake,—when the moon, not secondary to the sun,

"gives us his blaze again,
Void of its flame, and sheds a softer day.
Now through the passing cloud she seems to stoop,
Now up the pure cerulean rides sublime."

Diana still hunts in the New-England sky.

"In heaven queen she is among the spheres;

She, mistress-like, makes all things to be pure;

Eternity in her oft change she bears;

She Beauty is; by her the fair endure.

"Time wears her not; she doth his chariot guide;

Mortality below her orb is placed;

By her the virtues of the stars down slide;

By her is Virtue's perfect image cast."

The Hindoos compare the moon to a saintly being who has reached the last stage of bodily existence.

Great restorer of antiquity, great enchanter! In a mild night, when the harvest or hunter's moon shines unobstructedly, the houses in our village, whatever architect they may have had by day, acknowledge only a master. The village street is then as wild as the forest. New and old things are confounded. I know not whether I am sitting on the ruins of a wall, or on the material which is to compose a new one. Nature is an instructed and impartial teacher, spreading no crude opinions, and flattering none; she will be neither radical nor conservative. Consider the moonlight, so civil, yet so savage!

The light is more proportionate to our knowledge than that of day. It is no more dusky in ordinary nights than our mind's habitual atmosphere, and the moonlight is as bright as our most illuminated moments are.

“In such a night let me abroad remain

Till morning breaks, and all 's confused again."

Of what significance the light of day, if it is not the reflection of an inward dawn?—to what purpose is the veil of night withdrawn, if the morning reveals nothing to the soul? It is merely garish and glaring.

When Ossian, in his address to the Sun, exclaims,—

"Where has darkness its dwelling?

Where is the cavernous home of the stars,

When then quickly followest their steps,

Pursuing them like a hunter in the sky,—

Thou climbing the lofty hills,

They descending on barren mountains?"

who does not in his thought accompany the stars to their "cavernous home," "descending" with them" on barren mountains"?

Nevertheless, even by night the sky is blue, and not black; for we see through the shadow of the earth into the distant atmosphere of day, where the sunbeams are revelling.