this week i

found a bug in base r after cigna released its transparency data.  professor lumley focused on more consequential topics, namely bquote.  perto da praia da urca, filipe's mom can touch pao de acucar from her window.  when maite's not gripped by a story, she's listening to the party or commandeering houseboats in botafogo bay.  mountainside airplane shadow continues to amaze, just once i'd like to see the outline of a dragon



read the hero with a thousand faces by joseph campbell

among the aborigines of australia, for example, one of the principal features of the ordeal of initiation (by which the boy at puberty is cut away from the mother and inducted into the society and secret lore of the men) is the rite of circumcision.  "when a little boy of the murngin tribe is about to be circumcised, he is told by his fathers and by the old men, 'the great father snake smells your foreskin; he is calling for it.'  the boys believe this to be literally true and become extremely frightened.  usually they take refuge with their mother, mother's mother, or some other favorite female relative, for they know that the men are organized to see that they are taken to the men's ground, where the great snake is bellowing.  the women wail over the boys ceremonially; this is to keep the great snake from swallowing them"

the standard path of the mythological adventure of the hero is a magnification of the formula represented in the rites of passage: separation - initiation - return: which might be named the nuclear unit of the monomyth

the dangerous god appeared mounted on an elephant and carrying weapons in his thousand hands.  he was surrounded by his army, which extended twelve leagues before him, twelve to the right, twelve to the left, and in the rear as far as to the confines of the world; it was nine leagues high.  the protecting deities of the universe took flight, but the future buddha remained unmoved beneath the tree.  and the god then assailed him, seeking to break his concentration.
whirlwind, rocks, thunder and flame, smoking weapons with keen edges, burning coals, hot ashes, boiling mud, blistering sands and fourfold darkness, the antagonist hurled against the savoir, but the missiles were all transformed into celestial flowers and ointments by the power of guatama's ten perfections.  mara then deployed his daughters, desire, pining, and lust, surrounded by voluptuous attendants, but the mind of the great being was not distracted.  the god finally challenged his right to be sitting on the immovable spot, flung his razor-sharp discus angrily, and bid the towering host of the army to let fly at him with mountain crags.  but the future buddha only moved his hand to touch the ground with his fingertips, and thus bid the goddess earth bear witness to his right to be sitting where he was.  she did so with a hundred, a thousand, a hundred thousand roars, so that the elephant of the antagonist fell upon its knees in obeisance to the future buddha.  the army was immediately dispersed, and the gods of all the worlds scattered garlands.
having won that preliminary victory before sunset, the conqueror acquired in the first watch of the night knowledge of his previous existences, in the second watch the divine eye of omniscient vision, and in the last watch understanding of the chain of causation.  he experienced perfect enlightenment at the break of day.
this is the most important single moment in oriental mythology, a counterpart of the crucifixion of the west.  the buddha beneath the tree of enlightenment (the bo tree) and christ on holy rood (the tree of redemption) are analogous figures, incorporating an archetypal world savior, world tree motif, which is of immemorial antiquity.  many other variants of the theme will be found among the episodes to come.  the immovable spot and mount calvary are images of the world navel, or world axis.
the calling of the earth to witness is represented in traditional buddhist art by images of the buddha, sitting in the classic buddha posture, with the right hand resting on the right knee and its fingers lightly touching the ground

the crisis of birth

the first stage of the mythological journey - which we have designated the "call to adventure" - signifies that destiny has summoned the hero and transferred his spiritual center of gravity from within the pale of his society to a zone unknown.  this fateful region of both treasure and danger may be variously represented: as a distant land, a forest, a kingdom underground, beneath the waves, or above the sky, a secret island, lofty mountaintop, or profound dream state; but it is always a place of strangely fluid and polymorphous beings, unimaginable torments, superhuman deeds, and impossible delight

she hath wrists which, did her bangles not contain,
would run from out her sleeves in silvern rain

"the foot," writes dr. freud, "is an age-old sexual symbol which occurs even in mythology" .. the name oedipus, it should be noted, means "the swollen footed"

not even monastery walls, however, not even the remoteness of the desert, can defend against the female presences; for as long as the hermit's flesh clings to his bones and pulses warm, the images of life are alert to storm his mind.  saint anthony, practicising his austerities in the egyptian thebaid, was troubled by voluptuous hallucinations perpetrated by female devils attracted to his magnetic solitude.  apparitions of this order, with loins of irresistible attraction and breasts bursting to be touched, are known to all the hermit-resorts of history

the nile fled in terror to the ends of the earth and hid its head, and it is hidden yet

"after this lived job an hundred and forty years, and saw his sons, and his sons' sons, even four generations.  so job died, being old and full of days

hermaphrodite (the child of hermes and aphrodite)

the cosmic praying-mantis

jainism is a heterodox hindu religion (i.e., rejecting the authority of the vedas) which in its iconography reveals certain extraordinarily archaic traits

the image of the cosmic egg is known to many mythologies; it appears in the greek orphic, egyptian, finnish, buddhistic, and japanese


the hero-deed is a continuous shattering of the crystallizations of the moment

stated in direct terms: the work of the hero is to slay the tenacious aspect of the father (dragon, tester, ogre king) and release from its ban the vital energies that will feed the universe.  "this can be done either in accordance with the father's will or against his will; he [the father] may 'choose death for his children's sake,' or it may be that the gods impose the passion upon him, making him their sacrificial victim.  these are not contradictory doctrines, but different ways of telling one and the same story; in reality, slayer and dragon, sacrificer and victim, are of one mind behind the scenes, where there is no polarity of contraries, but mortal enemies on the stage, where the everlasting war of the gods and the titans is displayed.  in any case, the dragon-father remains a pleroma, no more diminished by what he exhales than he is increased by what he repossesses.  he is the death, on whom our life depends; and to the question, 'is death one, or many?' the answer is made that 'he is one as he is there, but many as he is in his children here.'

the hero of yesterday becomes the tyrant of tomorrow, unless he crucifies himself today



this week i

finished peaky blinders on the plane: i do read poetry but i don't yet write it.  note how these weirdos spell kinshasa, big matches.  rogerio met me past immigration, acted surprised at two shirtless men wrestling on the governor's island highway cement past midnight.  during room temperature winters, cariocas wear scarves.  caesar's famous last words: et tu, brasil?  i memorized manuel, olympio, joao, sami, and flavio - who says bellezza with his thumb up - every time i'm back from a run.  when the coda of iberia has been written: the spanish won but the portuguese had fun



(1) the black sea is the source of 12 per cent of globally traded caloric intake

 throughout the 2010s, the world bank published a series of reports announcing 'tremendous progress' in reducing extreme poverty.  these were exaggerated claims based on data full of gaps and a specious methodology.  the former un special envoy on extreme poverty and human rights, philip alston, showed in 2020 that the bank's measures were largely designed to tick off development goals.  it defined poverty out of existence rather than working to alleviate it.  the eradication of poverty was being presented as a triumph of the existing order and a justification for the continuing inequalities of the global economy.  the triumph was illusory.  the war in ukraine and the food crisis it has compounded will result in growing poverty and privation

(2) a bilingual mind is like a household that contains more than one person


(3) the chevron doctrine


(4) the cfa franc

like seeds thrown on the hardpan sahelian landscape, these proposals, even when implemented, have failed to produce sustained and significant economic growth

while high inflation tends to be harmful in rich countries where most people are consumers, inflation rates of up to 12 percent have been associated with economic growth in poor ones - where most people are producers - because they make exports cheaper.  strategic devaluation helped countries like vietnam, where a dollar now buys 23,000 dong, stay competitive

you have to bribe the midwife or you'll risk dying in childbirth

senegal's peanuts

the ranks of the islamic state are swollen with pastoralists whose animals were taken with impunity by soldiers, police, and militias 


(5) the pritzker's first burkinabe

 good architecture in burkina faso is a classroom where you can sit, have light that is filtered, entering the way that you want to use it, across a blackboard or on a desk.  how can we take away the heat coming from the sun, but use the light to our benefit?  creating climate conditions to give basic comfort allows for true teaching, learning and excitement.  i consider my work a private task, a duty to this community


(6) the price of continued economic growth is too high

 moral authorities from confucius to chuck d have extolled the virtues of consuming less, and in recent decades these arguments have gained existential urgency

speculative journalism..reverse archaeology

both kangaroo rats and humans respond to stress by hoarding


(7) the trial of the bataclan attack

i only realized about a month later that i hadn't fallen on people, i had fallen on bodies

parental permission for jihad


(8) kawanabe kyosai

unlike many of kyosai's crows, which were sketched on paper, this is painted on silk, which has different qualities of absorbancy, and requires the artist to have considerable control of his materials

(9) latter-day sedaris

the key is to fill the space between your skill level and perfection with charm

after reading that a teenager in hawaii has been fined for slapping a seal, david happily ponders how satisfying it would be to do so, and the sound it would make, so much 'wetter, meatier' than clapping your hands

at readings, where sedaris typically signs books for hours, he passes the time by asking his readers questions designed to spark conversation.  what do they do for a living?  do they know any unusual curses (they do.)  have they ever been stabbed?  (they have.)  to men: in a restaurant, would you share dessert with another man?  (most say no.)


(10) the dispersal of songbirds

ravens are the largest songbirds on earth today



this week i

moved most everything.  stereo receiver might end up on craigslist, vlc mutes karaoke for classical music sans hourly talking.  hangars for hipsters


ate duck, duck, mousse with rupak at elle (duck poutine, duck ravioli, graham cracker cheesecake).  hannes sent duckdb paraphernalia, i replied as cinderella.  would a reverse siren be a beautiful woman who sings like a duck?  common ancestor of duck and platypus didn't have a beak.  duck yeah

ask more cia reporting on security risks posed by climate change.  could we replace the main irredentism photo with putin?  kandahar named for alexander.  jude law looks like that punch brother who replaced keillor for a minute.  michelangelo signed his work only once: the florentine did it

read postwar: a history of europe since 1945 by tony judt

world war two was primarily a civilian experience

 during an outbreak of dysentery in berlin during july 1945 - the result of damaged sewage systems and polluted water supplies - there were 66 infant deaths for every 100 live births

there was a feeling among western policymakers that the league of nations, and the minority clauses in the versailles treaties, had failed and that it would be a mistake even to try to resurrect them.  for this reason they acquiesced readily enough in the population transfers

with the exception of germany and the heartland of the soviet union, every continental european state involved in world war two was occupied at least twice: first by its enemies, then by the armies of liberation

gattopardismo ('leopardism' or 'spot-changing')

and the german people were not alone.  in italy the daily newspaper of the new christian democrat party put out a similar call to oblivion on the day of hitler's death: 'we have the strength to forget!', it proclaimed.  'forget as soon as possible!'  in the east the communists' strongest suit was their promise to make a revolutionary new beginning in countries where everyone had something to forget - things done to them or things they had done to themselves.  all over europe there was a strong disposition to put the past away and start afresh, to follow isocrates' recommendation to the athenians at the close of the peloponnesian wars: 'let us govern collectively as though nothing bad had taken place'

the contrast between the britain of george orwell's road to wigan pier (published in 1937) and that of conservative prime minister harold macmillan's famous put-down to a heckler twenty years later ('you've never had it so good') is a tribute to the national health service and the provisions for security, income maintenance and employment that accompanied it

the day hitler died, 10 percent of german railways were operational and the country was at a literal standstill.  a year later, in june 1946, 93 percent of all german rail tracks had been re-opened and 800 bridges had been rebuilt

in a speech on april 12th 1946, vice-president henry wallace reminded his audience that 'aside from our common language and common literary tradition, we have no more in common with imperialistic england than with communist russia.'  wallace, of course, was notoriously 'soft' on communism, but his distaste for american involvement with britain and europe was widely shared across the political spectrum.  when winston churchill gave his famous 'iron curtain' speech in fulton, missouri, in march 1946, the wall street journal acidly commented: 'the country's reaction to mr churchill's fulton speech must be convincing proof that the us wants no alliance, or anything that resembles an alliance, with any other nation'

the famous bon mot of lord ismay, who took up his post as nato's first secretary general in 1952: the purpose of the north atlantic treaty organization was 'to keep the russians out, the americans in and the germans down'

basic food rationing in britain only ended in 1954 - long after the rest of western europe.  street scenes in post-war britain would have been familiar to citizens in the soviet bloc - in the words of one english housewife, recalling these years, 'it was queues for everything, you know, even if you didn't know what you were queuing for . . . you joined it because you know there was something at the end of it'

communist regimes of eastern europe had used the courts to punish and close down the churches everywhere except poland, where open confrontation with the catholic church was deemed too risky

the red army liberated auschwitz

the show trials in the communist bloc were not about justice.  they were, rather, a form of public pedagogy-by-example; a venerable communist institution (the first such trials in the ussr dated to 1928) whose purpose was to illustrate and exemplify the structures of authority in the soviet system.  they told the public who was right, who was wrong; they placed blame for policy failures; they assigned credit for loyalty and subservience; they even wrote a script, an approved vocabulary for use in discussion of public affairs

 from a child's first class with a communist primary teacher, in prague, april 1948: 'children, you all know that in america people live in holes dug in the ground and are slaves for a few capitalists, who take all the profit.  but in russia everyone is happy, and we in prague are very happy too, owing to the government of klement gottwald.  now children, repeat loudly with me: "we are very contented and approve the gottwald government"


at the close of the second world war, the peoples of western europe - who were hard put to govern or even feed themselves - continued to rule much of the non-european world

the red army would come in and restore order in any case; the only question was which hungarians would have the honour of collaborating with them

the dutch economy grew by 3.5 percent each year from 1950-1970 - seven times the average annual growth rate for the preceding forty years

the first european hypermarkets, defined as stores with at least 25,000 square feet of space on a single level and typically located at least two miles from a town center, began to appear at the end of the 1960s.  by 1973 there were about 750 of these giant stores in western europe, 620 of them in france and west germany alone.  in italy in that same year there were just three.  twenty years later there were fully 8,000 hypermarkets and superstores in france . . . but still just 118 in italy

build not economic utopias but good societies

the older generation was convinced that sexual restraints had completely collapsed - and it pleased their children to nourish the nightmare

'kommune 1', a maoist micro-sect that aggressively promoted sexual promiscuity-as-liberation, circulated a self-portrait in 1966: seven nude young men and women splayed against a wall - 'naked maoists before a naked wall' as the caption read when the photo ran in der spiegal in june 1967.  the emphasis on nudity was explicitly designed to recall pictures of helpless, naked concentration camp bodies.  look, it said: first came hitler's victims, now the rebelliously unclothed bodies of maoist revolutionaries.  if germans can look at the truth about our bodies, they will be able to face other truths as well

yesterday came suddenly

by the early sixties, the 3 percent of cultivated soil in private hands was yielding over a third of the soviet union's agricultural output.  by 1965, two thirds of the potatoes consumed in the ussr and three quarters of the eggs came from private farmers

power rested not - as most social thinkers since the enlightenment had supposed - upon control of natural and human resources, but upon the monopoly of knowledge: knowledge about the natural world; knowledge about the public sphere; knowledge about oneself; and above all, knowledge about the way in which knowledge itself is produced and legitimized.  the maintenance of power in this account rested upon the capacity of those in control of knowledge to maintain that control at the expense of others, by repressing subversive 'knowledges'

la france profonde, unsullied by cities and cosmopolitanism

after greenland achieved self-rule in 1979, a referendum was called in which the country voted to leave the eec, the only member-state ever to do so

communism was the dark mirror that history was holding up to the west

gorbachev, in the view of one of his close advisers, was 'a genetic error of the system'

the author, who was in prague at this time, can vouch for the intoxicating feeling that history was being made by the hour

romanian communism in its last years sat uneasily athwart the intersection of brutality and parody.  portraits of the party leader and his wife were everywhere; his praise was sung in dithyrambic terms that might have embarrassed even stalin himself (though not perhaps north korea's kim il sung, with whom the romanian leader was sometimes compared).  a short list of the epithets officially-approved by ceausescu for use in accounts of his achievement would include: the architect; the creed-shaper; the wise helmsman; the tallest mast; the nimbus of victory; the visionary; the titan; the son of the sun; a danube of thought; and the genius of the carpathians

august 23rd 1989..a human chain ('hands across the baltic') 650 kilometers in length, reaching from vilnius through riga to tallinn, to mark the 50th anniversary of the molotov-ribbentrop pact

local commentators were pessimistic about the chances for pluralist politics.  if capitalism without legal restraints descends readily into theft, then - in the absence of agreed and understood boundaries to public rhetoric and political competition - democracy, it was feared, risks slipping into competitive demagogy

english is now the common language of belgium

henry kissinger's sardonic question of an earlier decade - 'if i want to phone europe, what number do i call?'

when mozart headed west from vienna en route for prague in 1787, he described himself as crossing an oriental border.  east and west, asia and europe, were always walls in the mind at least as much as lines on the earth

in eastern europe and iberia, the long absence of a free press meant that many people, especially outside of the large cities, had missed out altogether on the newspaper era - transiting directly from pre-literacy to the electronic media

few would have predicted it sixty years before, but the twenty-first century might yet belong to europe

 memory is inherently contentious and partisan

'european union' may be a response to history, but it can never be a substitute


this week i

felt inspired by the anatomy lesson of dr. nicolaes tulp.  matthew installed bookshelf with hammer drill and repeated reassurances, "i'm not an idiot"


borrowed donna's photoshopping skills.  clinton thwarted by cave tora bora // obama foiled by keyboard mash zora.  i save my best poems for tinder


watched blur, hustle of teenage years licorice pizza, stoic sidney poitier in the heat of the night, shawshank redemption inspiration the grand illusion 


(1) ai weiwei's nail in the eye

a juvenile political prisoner in internal exile

under a totalitarian system cruelty and absurdity go hand in hand

after having first been excluded and then absenting himself from his own society for so many years, collecting things from china's past was a way for him to reattach himself.  but it was an ambivalent reconnection, as he graphically illustrated in the triptych he shot of himself willfully dropping and shattering a han dynasty (202 bce - 220 ce) clay pot

supporters even began flying paper airplanes made of banknotes over the walls of his compound

he..sculpted a surveillance camera out of marble

never love a person or a country that you don't have the freedom to leave

(2) anthropodenial

whale song, it turns out, changes rapidly, even faddishly, by imitation

dolphins have the capacity for ecolocation, a form of perception akin to sonar, which can inform them not only of the contours of an object but also of its dolphin researcher was informed of her own pregnancy by a dolphin, who noticed something strange inside the woman's body before the woman herself had thought to get a test

(3) holbein the younger

the portrait offered a warning that the king did not heed

for many years these paintings have faced each other dramatically

(4) we may live to see the end of coral reefs

australia's great barrier reef..stretches 1,400 miles north to south and covers an area around the size of italy

a maritime garden of eden

a researcher who dived on the reefs as they died, recalls, "i can't even tell you how bad i smelt after the dive - the smell of millions of rotting animals"

coral husbandry

(5) the dogma lives loudly within you

scalia..was confirmed with a 98-0 vote by the senate in 1986

(6) merkelissmo

(7) murals in kyiv depicting putin's head on the body of a snake

 us intelligence appears to have had a source in the kremlin with access to the war plans

between 1999 and 2009 nato expanded into poland,  hungary, the czech republic, the baltic states, romania, bulgaria, slovakia, slovenia, albania, and croatia


(8) three valiant immigrants offering clear-eyed and damning evidence of misconduct by the american president

in 1986, when the state department's upper ranks were still famously "pale, male and yale"

this is not how the deep state likes to be treated




read tales of tortola and the british virgin islands by florence lewisohn


these arawaks and these caribs, from somewhere in the orinoco basin of south america


the sugar went to england; the rum was for home consumption or was shipped to the north american colonies along with the entire molasses output, which was sorely needed to keep the new england distilleries going.  north american rum then often went to africa to be traded for slaves, and the slaves were brough to the west indies to help grow more cane to make more sugar, rum and molasses


islands changed hands with monotonous regularity


an axe or hatchet stood handy to chop off the arm or leg of any worker unlucky enough to be caught in the rollers, before the whole body could be drawn in


william penn, later of pennsylvania, and his brother richard were sons of the famous english admiral lord penn.  the story goes that when the two brothers joined the society of friends their father disowned them.  the admiral himself had, along with army general venables, muffed an expensive expedition against santo domingo and had taken jamaica story is that while the brothers incurred their father's wrath over their becoming quakers, they incurred only the amusement of the king.  william, following the quaker custom of not taking off his hat to any temporal ruler once failed to doff his to the king.  the king then violated royal custom and promptly doffed his to william.  puzzled, william asked him why he did this, to which the king replied that since it was customary for at least one gentleman on meeting another to doff his hat, he had to do it if william didn't


 doctor and poet.  the most famous friend of all this prominent group was john coakley lettsom, who was born in 1744 on little jost van dyke island off tortola.  he died in london in 1815, famous as a physician, writer and philanthropist.

dr. lettsom's undying fame rests also on his humorous masterpiece:

i, john lettsom

blisters, bleeds and sweats 'em

if, after that, they please to die,

i, john lettsom.


one of the most gracious gestures of many made by the queen during her tour was a visit to tortola's oldest resident, miss anna shirley, aged 102.

the royal procession left roadtown and drove along the lovely sea coast eastward to the far left end of tortola, where the queen dedicated and opened the new bridge across to beef island.  this new $85,000 steel and concrete structure has been named the queen elizabeth bridge in honor of the day

there are two good banks which you may need although the best things on tortola are still free


this week i

arrived at first delfest since covid, mexico opened sooner.  kids at entrance: pay me $1 to make you laugh?  why was the bra stuck?  a booby trap. stranger to different stranger who asked if these seats taken: savin' 'em for ya.  zora featured in baptized at the polyvinyl chloride spigot and other renaissance art.  bela fleck's beard looks like ted cruz with safer bmi, george r.r. martin lost weight too.  quality carabiner usage, i regret not asking why malawi in the molly tuttle crowd.  if you see someone with suntan lotion not fully rubbed in, the people who love them just must not be nearby


read changes in the land: indians, colonists, and the ecology of new england by william cronon

marshall sahlins once described interdisciplinary research as "the process by which the unknowns of one's own subject are multiplied by the uncertainties of some other science"

theoreticians of colonialism like hakluyt had furnished a ready list of such commodities by the time europeans began to visit new england regularly: fish for salting, furs for clothing, timber for ships, sassafras for curing syphilis, and so on

the semiannual flights of the passenger pigeons..flocks "that to my thinking had neither beginning nor ending, length nor breadth, and so thick that i could see no many that they obscured the light"

 here is good living for those that love good fires

the chestnut was destroyed by blight in the early part of the twentieth century

the ecological principle known as liebig's law states that biological populations are limited not by the total annual resources available to them but by the minimum amount that can be found at the scarcest time of the year

although southern indians engaged in many of the same annual hunting and fishing activities as northern ones, their concentration on the raising of crops can be seen even in the names they gave their months.  northern indians named their lunar months in terms of seasonal changes in animal populations, referring to the egg laying of birds, the running of salmon, the molting of geese, the hibernation of bears, and so on.  by contrast, southern indians chose the names of their months with an entirely different emphasis.  the fur trader john pynchon recorded that the agawam indian village near springfield, massachusetts, began its year with the month of squannikesos, which included part of april and part of may, and whose name meant "when they set indian corn."  this was followed by various months whose name indicated the weeding of corn, the hilling of corn, the ripening of corn, the coming of the frost, the middle of winter, the thawing of ice, and the catching of fish.  the southern cycle of months was thus remarkable in having only a single reference to the animals which so dominated the northern calendar, and indication of how much agriculture had transformed indian lives there

unlike the english, who most frequently created arbitrary place-names which either recalled localities in their homeland or gave a place the name of its owner, the indians used ecological labels to describe how the land could be used

low population densities and..having lived for extended periods under semiarctic conditions served to filter out microorganisms which required large host populations and more temperate climates to survive

to puritans, the epidemics were manifestly a sign of god's providence, "in sweeping away great multitudes of the natives . . . that he might make room for us there."  john winthrop saw this "making room" as a direct conveyance of property right: "god," he said, "hath hereby cleared our title to this place"

noah webster summarized them - using his own peculiar spelling system - as follows: the amazing difference in the state of a cultivated and uncultivated surface of erth, iz demonstrated by the number of small streems of water, which are dried up by cleering away forests.  the quantity of water, falling upon the surface, may be the same; but when land iz cuvered with trees and leevs, it retains the water; when it iz cleered, the water runs off suddenly into the large streems.  it iz for this reezon that freshes [floods] in rivers hav becume larger, more frequent, sudden and destructiv, than they were formerly

the silenced voices of vanished wolves

indians called plantain "englishman's food," a name that suggests their awareness of the biological invasion going on around them

because no manure could be gathered from livestock which were not housed in barns at night, the english turned to fish as an alternate source of fertilizer.  whereas indians had fished the spring spawning runs primarily for their own food, the colonists did so in order to apply tens of thousands of alewives, menhaden, and other fish to their cornfields.  as early as 1634, a market in fish fertilizer was already in existence in massachusetts, and was still going strong in some areas at the end of the eighteenth century, when a thousand fish could be had for a dollar.  the fish did a remarkably good job of prolonging soil fertility, but had certain definite drawbacks.  they attracted wild animals, who tried to dig them out of the mounds in which maize was planted, and in the long run the fish tended to spoil fields with their oiliness.  for travelers, their most distressing characteristic was the "almost intolerable fetor" with which they filled the air

not yet learned the difference between yield and loot

the people of plenty were a people of waste



this week i

rented near the highest point in pennsylvania, where's waldo considerably more challenging sans candy cane costume


expect the national immunization surveys to add coronavirus vaccines to their youngest cohorts.  ataturk's idolatry, for roosevelt just would not be

watched charles chaplin's the gold rush. starving, spaghetti-slurps a shoelace. georgia hale matches anna morinelli's aesthetic tho no bonnie et clyde

watched battleship potemkin. above the heads of tsar's admirals thundered a brotherly hurrah. child murder in odessa. all for a spoonful of borscht


read saturday by ian mcewan

by cutting away carefully, perowne allowed gravity itself to draw the cerebellum down - no need for retractors - and it was possible to see deep into the region where the pineal lay, with the tumor extending in a vast red mass right in front of it.  the astrocytoma was well defined and had only partially infiltrated surrounding tissue.  perowne was able to excise almost all of it without damaging any eloquent region

he saw her eyes open, and her face remain immobile as she struggled to remember her place in the story of her existence

what other postgraduate aspiring poet wears short-skirted business suits and fresh white blouses, and rarely drinks and does her best work before 9 a.m.?  his little girl, slipping away from him into efficient parisian womanhood, is expecting her first volume of poems to be published in may.  and not by some hand-cranked press, but a venerable institution in queen square, right across from the hospital where he clipped his first aneurysm

anosognosia, a useful psychiatric term for a lack of awareness of one's own condition

when you're diseased it is unwise to abuse the shaman

to forget, to obliterate a whole universe of public phenomena in order to concentrate is a fundamental liberty

the sexiness of a four o'clock dusk

it's a record theo brought into the house years ago, chuck berry's old pianist, johnnie johnson, singing "tanqueray," a slouching blues of reunion and friendship.

it was a long time comin',

but i knew i would see the day

when you and i could sit down,

and have a drink of tanqueray.

she turns and comes towards him with a little dance shuffle.  when she's at his side he takes her hand.

she says, "smells like the old warmonger's made one of his fish stews.  can i be of use?"

"the young appeaser can set the table.  and make a salad dressing if you like."

he falls backwards, and arms outstretched, still holding the knife in his right hand.  there's a moment, which seems to unfold and luxuriously expand, when all goes silent and still, when baxter is entirely airborne, suspended in time, looking directly at henry with an expression, not so much of terror, as dismay.  and henry thinks he sees in the wide brown eyes a sorrowful accusation of betrayal.  he, henry perowne, possesses so much - the work, money, status, the home, above all, the family - the handsome healthy son with the strong guitarist's hands come to rescue him, the beautiful poet for a daughter, unattainable even in her nakedness, the famous father-in-law, the gifted, loving wife; and he has done nothing, given nothing to baxter who has so little that is not wrecked by his defective gene, and who is soon to have even less



this week i

updated our estimates of the out-of-pocket costs of insulin among the elderly and disabled

watched be kind rewind, with its coinage of sweding.  i didn't sabotage the power plant.  the power plant sabotaged me


watched some like it hot.  i tell you joe, they're on to us.  they're going to line us up against the wall (machine gun motion) e-e-e-e-e and the cops are gonna find two dead dames and they'll take us to the ladies' morgue and when they undress us i tell you joe i'm gonna die of shame

title these cute because astute, the corner of the dueling lamps.  sal drew 48 states, maine closest to africa.  marcie had a baby of unusual size



(1) the culture and history of duelling

the angry brawl was drained of passion, made mindful and even elegant.  a doctor was always on hand, but deaths were common.  then, in the second half of the 19th century, the practice declined and disappeared.  it's 'the sheer incomprehensibility'

posterity can only watch in amazement


(2) mistaken deification, accidental divinity

the word 'mahatma' stinks in my nostrils

a binary division between humanity and divinity was itself a peculiarly christian dogma

for emperors, it became a routine accolade - "oh dear, i think i'm becoming a god," vespasian is said to have joked on his deathbed in 79 ce

(3) the fourth filmed macbeth

welles and polanski opted for soliloquies to be spoken in voice-over

(4) logical accounting ledger

"a point is that which has no part," says euclid

a jarring scholastic experience sandwiched between two years of algebra.  until that moment mathematics had been about finding the answer to a question: for example, "sally rows downstream for 20 miles with a current of 2 miles per hour and the trip upstream takes 5 hours.  how fast does sally row?"  in geometry, however, you're told the answer - "if in a triangle two angles equal each other, then the sides opposite the equal angles also equal each other" - and then asked to find a reason, and explain it.  qed


(5) regolith, astrobionics, plants do perceive the lunar soil environment as stressful

(6) with not much more heat than is needed to cook a pizza, copper-spiked zeolite can zap methane from passing air

(7) leonid kravchuk...three leaders agreed..."the ussr as a subject of international law and a geopolitical reality ceases its existence"


(8) supply chains: uncertain consequences of removing major elements of a system whose deep workings and sources of stability remain unmapped

 for decades, policymakers have assumed that production and financial markets can largely look after themselves, with some oversight by regulators.  these assumptions are poorly suited to a world in which hostile governments can weaponize the weak points in the global economy against their adversaries

before the covid-19 pandemic, few people noticed or cared that a single german manufacturer produces roughly 75% of the machines for processing the fabrics that high-quality medical masks require


(9) the methodological limits of climate science

 the key feature of the that it is unpriced

economists 'set themselves too easy, too useless a task', keynes said, 'if in tempestuous seasons they can only tell us that when the storm is long past the ocean is flat again'

climate change means that when we try to look twenty or fifty years ahead, we have very little capacity to anticipate conditions

 a forecast of 2 per cent annual global consumption growth over the next decades..isn't optimistic or pessimistic so much as baseless



(10) old books

more than five hundred calves died to create the magnificent codex amiatinus, the oldest complete latin bible, which dates from the time of bede

the 'tremulous hand of worcester'

many nunneries had scriptoria whose personnel signed themselves as scriptrix, or female scribe

manuscripts bear telltale signs of their use.  in fact, book historians love the sloppy readers who would have pained librarians of old.  marginal notes supply priceless evidence of reader response to texts, while maniculae or pointing hands highlight key passages.  if beeswax stains indicate liturgical reading, the humbler tallow wax suggests a late-night lay reader at home.  saint boniface used a manuscript to shield himself when attacked by robbers; the slashes it suffered make it a relic of his martyrdom.  pages of many books are marred by dirty fingerprints, wine stains or, in one case, cat urine.  an angry scribe in 1420 scrawled next to smelly lacuna: 'confundatur pessimus cattus qui minxit super librum istum in nocte' ('a curse on the wicked cat that pissed on this book last night').  evidence of private censorship isn't rare.  not only are passages of text deleted, but angry readers even scratched out images that offended them, such as a demon or a fornicating couple

(11) petty identity theft

jonathan franzen is impersonated so often he has saved on his desktop a picture of himself holding a sign that says 'i'm not on twitter.'  he periodically emails this to the relevant authorities who, presumably, take prompt action.  which is all very well if you're jonathan franzen.  but the genius of impersonating someone like me is that i'm the only one who cares

read ten great films by stanley kauffmann

 eisenstein's potemkin: he establishes, by typage, a woman with glasses protesting the soldiers' butchery.  shortly afterward, we see an officer swinging a saber at the camera; then we cut to her face, one lens of her glasses shattered, her eye streaming blood, her features frozen in shock.  (the bank teller in bonnie and clyde who was shot through the car window is her direct descendant.)  the suggestion of the blow's force by ellipsis is masterly enough; but in the brief moment in which we see the officer swinging his saber at us, totaling less than two seconds, there are four different shots of him, exploding his fury into a horrifying prism


chaplin's the gold rush: the tramp twirls the shoelaces on his fork like spaghetti



ozu's tokyo story: mr. ozu looked happiest when he was engaged in writing a scenario with mr. kogo noda, at the latter's the time he had finished writing a script...he had already made up every image in every shot...the words were so polished that he would never allow us a single mistake

ozu often begins a shot before the characters enter and holds it after they leave - almost as if to prove that the place has been brought into existence by the expectation and fact of their visit

wilder's some like it hot: osgood talks about wedding plans with jerry, who is still in female dress, and dismisses jerry's frenzied objections.  at last, even at the risk of spoiling their means of escape from the hoods, jerry is forced to rip off his wig and say he can't marry osgood because he's a man.  to which the smiling, unswervable osgood replies with the famous last line