Saturday, July 10, 2010

Saturday Summary #8

No, Mark Twain [Samuel Clemens] was not, as some have said,"Col. Sanders without the chicken." From age 70 until he died at 74, he dictated to a stenographer a half-million word autobiography. Between half and a third of it has not yet been published but will be starting with volume 1 of 3 this year. Said he "...all sound and sane expressions must be let out." meaning his opinions about many topics from soldiers who he called "uniformed assassins" to Wall Street bankers and much in between. It's been 100 years and many will still be appalled at his opinions.

Deserving Twain-like invective: illegal trafficking in protected animals and their body parts worldwide is a $5 billion business. One little noticed example: Central Asian falcons are being captured and sold to Arabic sheiks who love fox hunting with them. And then there are all those Chinese, and other Asian men so concerned about their sexual potency, they pay well for medicines made of body parts of tigers, bears and other endangered animals. Another example are the chiru, the Tibetan antelope killed by the thousands by poachers in a huge nature reserve. These are the animals with the finest wool in the world from whose belly hair shahtoosh shawls are woven for very rich women, so light and fine a shawl 3x10 yards in size, can be passed through a normal finger ring. They sell for thousands of dollars and have been a status symbol far beyond pashmina.
While many hunt and kill animals, humans continue to love them, even in robotic form. "Paro" is a robotic baby harp seal used in nursing homes to soothe upset patients. He has soft white fur and big eyes that open and close. His many micro sensors make him paddle and purr when he is stroked gently, and chirp in indignation when he is handled roughly or upside down or dropped.

Another soothing activity that is actually good for your health is called by the Japanese "Shinrin-yoku" which means "woods bathing" -- or to us, a stroll in the wood. Not surprisingly, it lower blood pressure and increases immune function. Try it; you'll like it.

Try not to think, when you're walking in the woods, walking down a street or at a crowded event about the fact that many people are getting permits to carry concealed hand guns. The State of Utah will issue such permits to anyone, anywhere in the US whether or not they live [or ever have even been in] in Utah, after they pass a gun safety program and can show the certificate. [Believe me, I have often ridden the NY subway and looked at groups of rowdy young men and wondered if any had concealed -- illegal -- guns. Not a happy state of mind.]

We HAVE advanced a bit from our savage past. 800,000 years ago early humans made flint tools to help them tear meat from carcasses partly eaten by hyenas who, in turn often had scavanged the same carcasses from saber toothed tigers. Ponder the food chain ... now there are secretive restaurants in some cities that will prepare almost any endangered animal for those willing to pay the price.

But let's be a little less drear and frightful. The movie The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, is written, in the U.S., as I just did, with the apostrophe between the T and S. Which in my eyes means there is one hornet in the nest which is very unlikely and not very dangerous. In Great Britain they are a little more careful with the English language [if they aren't who will be?] and write it "Hornets' Nest". God save the Queen's English!



June. Whoa, perhaps if we were still under the Queen's dictates we would have universal health care -- but since we are not -- most Americans verse their freedom in the way they write minus the queen. What else do we have left to be free from, surely not the dictates of gov't and corporations. Speak freely, write freely. Also, Go Mark Twain! -- barbara

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Marie aka Grams said...

And I live in that insane Utah place, where most of us can't figure out who is making these weird laws. Well, we have an idea, but....alas.

Kass said...

Another Utahn here wonders along with Marie....