¶   People don’t take sufficiently into account the dark forces that impel us. –Georges Braque (1939), in John Golding, Braque: the Late Works, 3.

¶  "Just as it makes no sense to ask why people eat or what they sleep for,” writes Martin van Creveld, an Israel-based military historian, “so fighting in many ways is not a means but an end.” However elusive, that was one of the best explanations I could find for why the Khmer Rouge kept fighting.--Robert D. Kaplan, Ends of the Earth, 416

¶   For all the pain and horror, war teaches little. –Douglas Peacock, Walking it Off, 153. Go read all the Peacock you can find. War as senseless Grizzly violence.

¶  I detest all sports. —G. B. Shaw, to a Japanese sports reporter, 1933. They cause bad manners and ill feeling. —180º wrong. They unleash bad manners and ill feeling. International sports meetings sow seeds of war. Which sprout just fine on the turf of bad manners and ill feeling. Little head buttings to head bashing to sabers to cannons to nukes, all the same genome.


   And that inverted Bowl we call the Sky
   Beneath which, crawling, cooped, we live and die—
   Lift not your Hands to It for help, for It
   Rolls on impotently as you or I—

    A Book of Verses underneath the Bough
    A Loaf of Bread, a Jug of Wine--and Thou
    Unless beside me in the Wilderness,
    E'en Paradise were Wilderness enow.

¶  Go get an apple. (That's a fresh Jonagold, from my back yard.) Be reminded that Earth’s entire biotic layer, from the ocean floor to the tropopause, is relatively about half as thick as your apple’s skin . If your drive to work is average for the American city dweller, that distance straight up would take you quite out of the life zone. (Well, maybe that's how you feel about going to work.) Stick a pin into your apple just deep enough to stand up firmly, and its point relative to Earth goes way deeper than anything we could ever hope to mine or drill. We are incredibly two-dimensional. As a kid playing hide I often climbed a tree, and looked down in amusement on “It”, hunting horizontally. You don’t believe the earth is flat? Think yourself into half an apple peel.

You don't need an apple any more now, in the space telescopy age. Within the bottom layer of that thin blue haze on the horizon is where we and everything else on earth live.

¶  The action of the state religion upon the state, the condition of Al-Islam during the reign of Al-Rashid, its declension from the primitive creed and its relation to Christianity and Christendom, require a somewhat extended notice. In offering the following observations it is only fair to declare my standpoints.
1. All forms of “faith,” that is belief in things unseen, not subject to the senses, and therefore unknown and (in our present stage of development) unknowable, are temporary and transitory: no religion hitherto promulgated amongst men shows any prospect of being final or otherwise than finite.
2. Religious ideas, which are necessarily limited, may all be traced home to the old seat of science and art, creeds and polity in the Nile Valley and to this day they retain the clearest signs of their origin.
3. All so-called “revealed” religions consist mainly of three portions, a cosmogony more or less mythical, a history more or less falsified and a moral code more or less pure.
–Burton, Terminal Essay (1886) to the Book of the Thousand Nights, V. 10, 177.

¶  Then there was John von Neumann, the great mathematician. We used to go for walks on Sunday. We'd walk in the canyons, often with Bethe and Bob Bacher. It was a great pleasure. And von Neumann gave me an interesting idea: that you don't have to be responsible for the world that you're in. So I have developed a very powerful sense of social irresponsibility as a result of von Neumann's advice. It's made me a very happy man ever since. But it was von Neumann who put the seed in that grew into my active irresponsibility! -- Richard Feynman (while he was at Los Alamos on the Manhattan Project) Surely you're joking, Mr. Feynman! (1985), 132.



Creed, you know, creates gumbo, not recipe, so you may expect anathemas whatever you do. Feel free to condemn me apostate for denying brown roux as orthodox. My doctrine works for any fresh seafood or poultry. Fry onions, chopped okra, and poblano pepper in hot olive oil. Add sassafras ("gumbo filé"), red pepper flakes or cayenne, a couple shots of tabasco® (as hot as you like it), paprika, coarse black pepper, oregano, and some veggies: corn, green peas, diced potato, whatever, as/if you like it. Fry to fragrance. Then put in a chopped tomato and enough tomato juice to make a thick goo, which fry to sticky mush. By now neighbors should know menu. Add enough chicken or other stock, or water if you're not a cook, to soupify, and simmer close-covered for an hour or so, checking to keep it thick soupy.
Live seafood was my birthright. By line, net, and oyster knife, and then freezer technology when I went to sea, I helped feed the family. That right has gone now, alas with some others, and except the freezer, for you too, so do the best you can. Peel shrimp, open shellfish, slice squid or whatever oceanica, dice garlic (never scorchfry it). Add it all to gumbo, simmer 5 minutes.
You risk no excommunication to serve it with rice. Put away all that hyperasiatic steamery. Add one measure of basmati and 1½ measure of water, a dose of salt and a lump of butter to an accurately-liddable sauce pot. Bring to boil, then simmer close-covered on lowest possible heat to riciness. Serve with good Plsner and Stravinsky Sacre for Steinways and percussion on Naxos GEN 11195.

¶  Most of the world’s plants—more than 90 percent of the known species—are connected by a vast subterranean network of fungal filaments, in a symbiotic association that goes back to the very origin of land plants, 400 million years ago. These fungal filaments are essential for the plants’ well-being, acting as living conduits for the transmission of water and essential minerals (and perhaps also organic compounds) not only between the plants and fungi but from plant to plant. –Oliver Sacks, Oaxaca Journal, 55.
-- Timber companies dutifully replanting clearcuts are finding that seedlings often fail to grow at all on badly damaged land. Severe cuts can destroy the soil fungi.

¶  A few days after the [St. Helens] eruption, a helicopter full of reporters started up the Toutle valley on a survey of the carnage [sic]. As they flew over the deforested lower slopes, gasps were heard and jaws opened.
‘I can’t believe it.’ said one reporter. ‘Everything is gone.’
‘Like the surface of the moon,’ said another, pointing to gray-covered stumps and creekbeds shaved to bristle. ‘There’s nothing left standing.’
Their frenzy was interrupted by a reporter from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the only local writer on board.
‘This area wasn’t destroyed by the volcano,’ he said. ‘We’re not over the blast zone yet.’
'That’s a Weyerhäuser clearcut below.’ –Timothy Egan, The Good Rain, 153.

¶   .

	1998 Waldo Wilderness burn, 
	    Willamette National Forest.

¶  Scientists are redefining how [riparian] ecosystems function and thus how they could be managed. Traditionally, it was thought that nutrient flow moved in one direction only, driven by gravity: nutrients, in the form of leaves, invertebrates and other material, fell from the forest into rivers and creeks, flowed downstream and moved out to the ocean. We know now that they also move in the opposite direction: nutrients, in the form of migrating salmon, travel from the ocean to freshwater and then, carried by foraging bears, to land. Any management action that reduces the number of salmon or bears will affect the nutrient flow and the many creatures that depend on it. –Scott M. Gende and Thomas P. Quinn, “The Fish and the Forest," Scientific American, August 2006, 89.


Warnings tacked to picnic tables all over Mount Ranier National Park (August 2010):
If park rangers catch them off station they’ll issue sitations, of course.

¶  One afternoon a student observing chimpanzees at the Gombe reserve took a break and climbed to the top of a ridge to watch the sun set on Lake Tanganyika. As the student, Geza Teleki, watched, he noticed first one and then a second chimpanzee climbing up toward him. The two adult males were not together and saw each other only when they reached the top of the ridge. They did not see Teleki. The apes greeted each other with pants, clasping hands, and sat down together. In silence Teleki and the chimpanzees watched the sun set and twilight fall. –Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, When Elephants Weep, 192.

¶   The primitive magician, however, never analyzes the mental assumptions on which his performance is based, never reflects on the abstract principles involved. With him, as with the vast majority of men, logic is implicit, not explicit; he knows magic only as a practical thing, and to him it is always an art, never a science, the very idea of science being foreign to his thinking. --James Frazer, New Golden Bough, 5.

¶   A fines del siglo XIII, Raimundo Lulio se aprestó a resolver todos los arcanos mediante una armazón de discos concéntricos, desiguales y giratorios, subdividos en sectores con palabras latinas; John Stuart Mill, a principios del XIX, temió que se agotara algún día el número de combinaciones musicales y no hubiera lugar en el porvenir para indefinidos Webers y Mozarts; Kurd Lasswitz, afines del XIX, jugó con la abrumadora fantasía de una biblioteca universal, que registrara todas las variaciones de los ventitantos símbolos ortográficos, o sea cuanto es dable expresar, en todas las lenguas. La máquina de Lulio, el temor de Mill y la caótica biblioteca de Lasswitz pueden ser materia de burlas, pero exageran una propensión que es común: hacer de la metafísica, y de las artes, una suerte de juego combinatorio. Quienes practican ese juego olvidan que un libro es más que una estructura verbal, o que una serie de estructuras verbales; es el diálogo que entabla con su lector y la entonación que impone a su voz y las cambiantes y durables imágenes que deja en su memoria. Ese diálogo es infinito . . . --Borges, "Nota sobre (hacia) Bernard Shaw," Obras Completas 8, 217.

¶  Mill could have concluded from listening to half a dozen Haydn string quartets that music is safely inexhaustible.

Ich hab mich des geflissen im dolmetschen, daß ich rein und klar deutsch geben möchte. . . Man muß nicht die buchstaben in der lateinischen sprachen fragen, wie man sol deutsch reden, wie diese esel tun, sondern man muß die mutter im hause, die kinder auf der gassen, den gemeinen man auf dem markt drumb fragen und den selbigen auf das maul sehen, wie sie reden, und darnach dolmetschen; so versteen sie es denn und merken, daß man deutsch mit in redet. Martin Luther, Sendbrief von Dolmetschen, 1530.

¶   --obstinate people, on the whole, are happier than others—"Pieter Adriaan van Zanten," van Zantens lykkelige Tid, by Laurids Bruun, tr. David Pritchard (London, 1908), p. 84.


Ich wandte mich und sah, wie es unter der Sonne zugehet, daß zu laufen nicht hilft schnell sein, zum Streit hilft nicht stark sein, zur Nahrung hilft nicht geschickt sein, zum Reichtum hilft nicht klug sein; daß einer angenehm sei, hilft nicht, daß er ein Ding wohl könne, sondern alles liegt es an der Zeit und Glück. --Luther, 1534

The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong. But that’s the way to bet. –Damon Runyon


Spaghetti and Meatballs
A recipe for such prosaica? Who needs it? Well, I do. I keep getting the simplest things wrong.
Contaminate a pound of the leanest, freshest ground beef you can get with chopped shallots, garlic, basil or oregano, parsley, grated Parmesano, an egg, and salt and pepper. Squish it into walnut-sized balls, slightly flattened. Brown them fast on both sides in very hot olive oil and take out. Sizzle chopped onions in the same oil and dust with oregano (easy to grow). Then add button or sliced mushrooms, and two minutes later a fat, very ripe, chopped tomato (easy to grow). We freeze em fresh from the garden, which turns em to mush, so you don't have to chop em. Then several chopped cloves of garlic (very easy to grow). I say garlic's dainty aroma should never be scorched in the frying stage. That makes it smell like Auschwitz. Now add a big glassful of stout red wine. I use Hardy (Australia) Cabernet, in the 3-liter box. For your gourmet friends horrified of box wines, hide it in a Clos de Vougeot   bottle and see if you get caught.
Cover and let simmer for an hour, then put the meatballs back in for a few minutes, and you're go. You don't need to be told how to cook spaghetti al dente, do you? But maybe I should say as soon as you drain it, douse it with a little olive oil, when your non-Italian wife isn't looking. (Devon: How do you get to be extra-virgin?) Cover it with grated mizithra cheese. Serve with the camouflaged Hardy, and the Mozart Clarinet Quintet and Concerto on RCA 82876-60866-2.