There is a grandeur in this view of life...while this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a begining endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved
If you are obsessed with books, a bibliophile, and have a compulsive curiosity of all their permutations; writing, writers, editing, publishing and an array of their sacroscant niches: libraries and bookstores. You will be enthralled with Jen Campbell’s The Bookshop Book. As suggested by the title, the crosshair emphasis is on the nesting site of books, the bookshop, and its many mutable suprastrutures, where some infrastures are portable: burros, boats, and buses…The salient search embodied a frogness from continent to continent, six to be exact, from sea-level to mountain tops, no bookshop door knob was not turned, well, maybe a few were missed, but hundreds were visited, from the smallest to the grandest, El Ateneo Grand Splendid, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Tangential stories like corridors created by linear juxtapose bookshelves delvulge intimate stories about owners of the shops and the brick-mortar histories; fortifying the word
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A Guide to Their Ecology and Monitoring For Water Quality This year I want to initiate a study on plankton; both, freshwater and marine. Being at a lost on how to commence, I have been perusing the literature for ideas, and texts for direction on monitoring and collecting methods. The book below, the first of many texts I have purchased for guidance, edited by two Aussies -plankton is plankton, regardless of geography- is a comprehensive A to Z text. “This practical book provides a comprehensive introduction to the biology and ecology of plankton and describes its use as a tool for monitoring water quality. All the major freshwater and coastal phytoplankton and zooplankton groups are covered and their associated environmental issues are discussed. A chapter on best practice in sampling and monitoring explains how to design, implement and conduct meaningful phytoplankton and zooplankton monitoring programs in marine and freshwater habitats, as well as how to analyze and interpret the results for effective, decisive management.”
This is another book admonishing the Skeptic/Atheist to play nice; advocating tolerance to ones that need spiritual sustenance. Chet Raymo advocates a Stephen Jay Gould’s NOMA, “nonoverlapping magisterial”; wherein, science and religion are afforded the breathing room to coexist peacefully, a position of respectful noninterference: Science defines the natural world; conversely, religion, our debatable moral world.
Chet has a proclivity to hybridize supernatural terms with that of the natural world, comparable to a conjugal visit from Zeus with Alcmene propagating the demigod Heracles. Chet conflates natural phenomena as miracles, as with this particular example, and many more: “the red knot is a sandpiper that twice each year visits the eastern shores of the US. Every year, these tough little travelers wing more than 18,000 miles, from the southern tip of South America to the arctic islands of northern Canada and back again, stopping briefly along the way on the beaches of Delaware Bay and Cape Cod…it’s the explanation that is the miracle!
George exclaims that Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, extolled as the most important book written in English during the 19th Century, earth-quake like, rattled the foundation of our arrogant anthropocentric position in our galaxy—the universe. Professor Levine foments the suggestion that, not only does Chuckey’s theory of Evolution rock the Science world of biology, it has literary merit, “Alive with metaphor, vivid descriptions, twists, hesitations, personal exclamations, humor, the prose is imbued with the sorts of tensions, ambivalences, and feelings characteristic of great literature.” The Victorian was an artist, as well as a scientist—Dickens, Eliot, and Wordsworth need to rearrange the furniture and make room for one more in the pantheon of Victorian literary greats. “ As an Artist, Darwin writes with powerful emotional and even moral implications, and his vision of the world is not simply “tragic”, as most cultural critics have argued, Rather it is comic, an expression of awe and wonder in the face of the grandness and beauty of nature, an awe that transforms itself into paradox and affirmative narrative.”
If your mind and personality traits are products of your brain, and the traits are a corollary of a political preference, then, Chris suggests your biology will determine your political persuasion: if you crave certainty and are punctilious, most likely you are a conservative; conversely, if have a proclivity for novelty, and are open minded, decisively driven by scientific facts, you’re probably leaning left liberal.
There is a growing body of evidence from brain scans, polls, psychology experiments to explain why conservatives believe more wrong things, oppose new ideas, less likely to change their beliefs in the face of new facts, and sometimes respond to compelling evidence by doubling down on their current perceptions; which, can be partial explicated by psychological phenomenon motivated reasoning. This conjecture suggests that one’s tendentious cognitive framing prefers only evidence that backs up their beliefs. Analyzing compilations of polemical arguments exhorts that liberal and conservatives don’t just have differing ideologies, they have different psychologies.
How could the rejection of mainstream science be growing among GOP, along with the denial of expert consensus on the economy, American history, and foreign policy: Apparently, the answer appears to be, it’s just part of who they are
Miles Unger new bio on Machiavelli, whose name is an eponym for the political stratagem on how to acquire and retain power without compunction to scruples or conscience, paints Niccolo Machiavelli aesthetically with broad strokes as the father of political science; diplomat, with an astute appreciation of human nature–a predecessor of Freud, if you will–and a poet and an author; specifically, creator of La Mandragola, a renowned comedy of the Italian Renaissance. A contemporary and intimate to the renaissance polymaths: Leonardo and Michelangelo; the era’s brilliant innovators. As the patriarch of political sci he sired two opuses: The Prince and The Discourses, where the former was modeled after the notorious Cesare Borgia, the son of Pope Alexander VI, violent career, and the latter, an analysis of the workings of the civil state.
As a product of his environment, Machiavelli’s, The Prince, was a reflection of revolutionary, tumultuous times, where geniuses and tyrants traipsed the landscapes: the manuscript was his manifestations of a pragmatic guide to aspiring politicians that is based on the world as it is, not as a should be. As an atheist, he readily dismissed the moral yard stick to facilitate decisive political and managerial direction; decisions were structured on the foundation of the natural world and the corruptible and flawed human nature
“When I wanted you to share my life, I had no doubt in my mind” Right Down The Line, Gerry Rafferty Mary and I commemorated our Fifteen Wedding Anniversary at the idyllic Sanderling Hotel in the Duck community of the Outer Banks, the very same place we spent our honeymoon. Anniversaries are, in my opinion, bookmarked temporal chapters that are 365 pages long. The more chapters documented the more muscular and robust the couple’s commitment will be to each other—so, the culture lore goes. The recognition and celebratory events associated with this custom has deep historical roots dating back to the Middle-Ages and then, packaged and categorized to a tidy discipline by the Victorians: the era of Charles Darwin, the iconic naturalist. Like a museum display case of Coleopteran insects that are taxonomically labeled, each anniversary year has a gemological gift affixed to it, i.e. 25 years is the silver anniversary; 50 years is gold; and the 15th—drum roll please, a ruby.
“When I wanted you to share my life, I had no doubt in my mind”
Right Down The Line, Gerry Rafferty
Mary and I commemorated our Fifteen Wedding Anniversary at the idyllic Sanderling Hotel in the Duck community of the Outer Banks, the very same place we spent our honeymoon. Anniversaries are, in my opinion, bookmarked temporal chapters that are 365 pages long. The more chapters documented the more muscular and robust the couple’s commitment will be to each other—so, the culture lore goes. The recognition and celebratory events associated with this custom has deep historical roots dating back to the Middle-Ages and then, packaged and categorized to a tidy discipline by the Victorians: the era of Charles Darwin, the iconic naturalist. Like a museum display case of Coleopteran insects that are taxonomically labeled, each anniversary year has a gemological gift affixed to it, i.e. 25 years is the silver anniversary; 50 years is gold; and the 15th—drum roll please, a ruby.
Mary and I have a trial and tested strategy for the drive to the beach; filled with Jack Johnson and Jimmy Buffett music, guzzling down Starbucks’ coffee, and conversations about kids, work and politics: generally, we agree on most topics. I find the drive a white knuckling experience, Mary, however, loves long drives— and, there appears to be a strong correlation between speed of dialogue and the velocity of the car. Maybe, we shouldn’t drink so much coffee; it might be safer.
To arrive at the Sanderling, we meander through the community of Duck, an apotheosis of a quaint beach town; trinket shops galore, and renown to the avid hunter for being the migratory path for wild ducks and other wild fowls.
The Sanderling has rooms that view both the Atlantic Ocean and the Currituck Sound. We prefer the Ocean view; we enjoy being lulled to sleep with the white noise of breaking waves on the beach. There were two unique features of the Sanderling that struck me as charming and evoked delight: tea time at 3PM and the impressive display of John James Audubon ornithological prints that dressed the walls. Audubon was an 1800 French American, naturalist painter, whose art depicted North American indigenous birds in their natural habitat.
The bar was low with regards to an agenda; no pressure, we were to luxuriate in beach-ness by taking long walks on the beach, reading— and, the climax was to have dinner at the Left Bank an AAA Four Diamond Award winning restaurant on the sound side of the resort. But, before we were to venture to the Pantheon and partake in ambrosia, Mary had indulged by (pampering) herself with a first; a scheduled pedicure, manicure and makeup/hairstyling at the resident Spa and Salon: a prelude to the climax.
We stayed two nights and left the morning of day three. The days were filled with long leisurely walks on the beach and one brief interlude among the weedy trail of the marsh. The marsh walk had all the trimmings of a Lewis Carroll’s chapter in Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland. The trail was pox with mud puddles and hemmed in with Spartina and assorted aquatic plants cording the estuary side, and the beach side, which had gnarly, contorted trunks and boughs of oak trees that were salt-wind manicured in the direction of the prevailing easterly winds, that shroud it’s understory with random shafts of light imbuing a perpetually twilight. As we hopscotch over the puddles, we encountered the local flora and fauna: a box turtle, indigenous songbirds, small inconspicuous wild flowers, and “the rabbit”. Now, I’m not suggesting the rabbit was donning a waistcoat, possessed a pocket watch, spoke in an English accent muttering the words, “Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be late”, but, I thought I witness,…”it pop down a large rabbit hole under the hedge” Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland, 1865. Unlike Alice, Mary and I reined in our teetering curiosity and refrained from a toboggan down the rabbit hole, and sauntered back to our room for lunch.
Our beach wonderings were also fraught with ethologic anthropomorphizing empathy; possessed by the apparition of Socrates, Mary and I converted to peripatetic-ism and engaged in l-o-n-g excursions over the undulating, wave sculpted cusps of sand, admiring the eclectic drift wood décor of the beach with a backdrop of sea oats blanketing the barricading berm, where we memorably chanced upon, the Clear-Nose Skate, littering the beach as cadavers in a mass graveyard, and an interloper, the clever, adaptable grackle.
The Clear Nose skate, Raja eglanteria, is ubiquitous up and down the east coast; like the snowbird hoary elders who pilot the RV’s the size of a school bus, they migrate south during fall and winter. Kite in shape, almond brown on top with random splattering of dark splotches and bars, and their bottom is opaque white. They averaged in size, about 18” wide and 30” long. What was the perpetrator of the Skateicide? Was it toxins from man’s pollutions or excreted from an organism; was it a parasitic organism—or, the enigmatic natural causes? My cursory investigation came up empty of any overt, obvious solution to the riddle of the beach carnage. The sanitation beach crew, the gulls, were air-lifting the odoriferous corpses out; traces and concerns of the mystery will soon be eroded from existence.
As we trudged on the saturated sand, which was intermittently soaked by spilling waves that splayed their content as a toppled glass of water would unto a kitchen floor, we spied, what seemed to be an aberrant squatting infraction of a niche entrenched by the indigenous shore birds, or colloquially put, elbowing in on someone’s dinner turf: the swash zone was inhabited by an interloper, the grackle, feeding at the trough of the willet and sanderling, whose predatory strategy is to jackhammer into the wet sand in search of a mole crab morsel. The grackles were exhibiting the same antics of the willet sanderling duo; not completely feckless, but occasionally, beak to carapace contact was made, and a mole crab delicacy was had. The grackle, Quiscalus sp., is a medium size bird, 1 ft. long, 3 ft., wing span; bicolor with its head to shoulder, hood-like, a purple iridescence and the rest of the body is black; sexual dimorphism is inherent of the species, female smaller, conspicuously drab brown; and, they have an omnivorous eating repertoire, to include, now, mole crabs. The ethological framing of questions that might elucidate this disparate display of foraging might focus on: 1) What problem might it have evolved from; and 2) phylogenetic inquiry of how might common ancestry shaped and constrain this behavior. Change that is shrouded propitiously, deleteriously, or neutral suggest life’s pathways; as in, Ben Hostetter’s, Porcupine Dilemma, 2011, a romantic anthropomorphize tale of a porcupine, whose storyline is a pageant of life changing decisional fork roads. In one conversation between Nick the quilled star, and Poe, a disgruntled, pillow making factory worker, raven, whose volition of a life’s aspirational path was usurped by responsibility; a mixed gift: Poe grumbled, “Had me a son and after…well, everything changed. Forced to give up on the dreams I had—on being an astronaut. Had to give up the stars.” Yet, as he tilted his beak upward and strained his eyes to view the stars in the stratosphere, he overlooks the “biggest star” his s(u)n! The wash zone of the beach is the grackles chance dream. As Louis Pasteur commented, “chance favors the prepared mind”, or in this case, genome.
Returning from the tangential natural history foray of the beach, we prepared for the anniversary dinner, the summit of the Atlantic Ocean tryst, to be commemorated at the luxurious restaurant, The Left Bank. My preparatory ritual was minimal at most, but Mary’s, on the other hand, had plans to accentuate her accessories, which conjured up the philosophical romp of Darwinian sexual selection. In 1871 Darwin’s, The Descent of Man, chapter on Sexual Selection evoked the countenance of raised eye brows from the prudish Victorians; wherein, the theory posits that certain physical, mental or psychological traits evolved because they aid in competition among individuals for access to a preferred mate or because they are enhancements of traits that help to attract mates. Mary had me with just a smile.
When you already have the ocean’s oysters’ pearl, as a confidant and lover, you wonder how any cosmetic products could enhance this briny precious stone; however, this returned pearl glisten with stunning optical delight: every strand of hair purposefully position, gradation of makeup hues accentuating her chocolate brown eyes and nails painted red, as if to exclaim, eyes on me—and, they were! After my ocular orgasm had abated, we donned our evening attire and strutted to the planned apogee of our Fifteen Anniversary commemorative dalliance: dinning at the Left Bank restaurant to experience American cuisine with the technique and traditions of French culinary finesse under the auspices of Chef Robinson. The food was sumptuous; cooked and served to perfection—but there was more; the ambiance was condiment-like: it enhanced the emotive experience to a crescendo of rapture. The design of the restaurant evoke the illusion of a bay window looming into the marsh of the Currituck Sound: half elliptical wall sectioned with floor to ceiling windows dressed with elegant curtains allowing multiple vistas that obliged and engendered eye ecstasy of the sunset.
The panorama of the estuary; a polygamous marriage of marine, fresh water, and a ribbon of sand veneered with Spartina grass, optically splashed through the portal holes of my corneas to the shores of my retinas, flooding my optical nerves with the perceptive paradox: nature is art and art is nature; where, art is a conscious construct of the mind that gives non-purposeful nature, meaning and beauty. Captivated by the serenity of the marsh, which precipitated a musing meiosis of proses and lyrics from Charles Darwin’s ,”… a tangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes , with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth…”; Rachel Carson’s, “…Underlying the beauty of spectacle there is meaning and significance. It is the elusiveness of that meaning that haunts us, that sends us again and again into the natural world where the key to the riddle is hidden. It sends us back to the edge of the sea, where the drama of life played its first scene on earth and perhaps even its prelude, where the forces of evolution are at work today,…”; and, Jack Johnson’s, Better Together I believe in memories they look so pretty when I sleep/ and when I wake up you look so pretty sleeping next to me/ but there is not enough time/ and there is no song I could sing/ and there is no combination of words I could say/ but I will still tell you one thing/ WE’RE BETTER TOGETHER .