Archive for September, 2007|Monthly archive page

Issa on Nudibranchia, Phalacrocoracidae, and Geometridae


These sea slugs
they just don’t seem

Children imitating cormorants
are even more wonderful
than cormorants

Under my house
an inchworm
measuring the joists


Make Pierre’s Poblano Frittatas, everybody

This frittata is named after my cat even though he can’t eat it ’cause it’s got onions. I’ve been working on this recipe for many years, and now you can have it. For free. Well, not free, just if you ever try it you should leave me some comments, because that’s the cool thing to do, y’all. It’s really tasty, but make sure you have a small omelette pan if you dare attempt that insane flip at the end, which should be practiced over a sink. Lots of people like frittatas for breakfast or brunch, but nobody’s stopping you from making this for dinner and serving some of that wine with it.


olive oil
poblano pepper
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And now a few words for Sr. Salgado


(I was working at a bookstore that year and picked up a copy of “Workers” and had all the kids in Photo class sign it and then we gave it to Mr. Baldwin because we figured he liked Salgado. Usually when photographers go to foreign countries and document poor working conditions or starvation or human rights violations or war, people don’t complain that the photographs might be too beautiful and idealize the situation. Not only does Salgado make art, he makes visual haikus that break you down until all that’s left is your eyes and whatever that part is that makes us human and wants so desperately to connect us with the other humans. That part doesn’t care where, or when, or why. It just wants us to see, that man is carrying a heavy bag of dirt, and no one is helping him, why isn’t anyone helping him? (Thank you for the present, Mr. Baldwin.))

A community above Chimborazo, Ecuador 1982
Day of the Dead, Ecuador 1982
Transporting bags of dirt in the Serra Pelada gold mine, Brazil 1986

All copyright Sebastiao Salgado, used without permission, sorry, I had to do it.

Issa on Snails


Climb Mount Fuji!
O Snail
but slowly, slowly

(Thanks for the lovely picture, Dr. Carole S. Hickman.)

Well-Respected Beards, No. 022: Joseph LeDoux


New York University: studies Emotion, Memory, and the Brain.
Plays guitar for the Amygdaloids.
Wrote a paper that may have inspired the science behind “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”

From a Salon interview:

Q: Most memories degrade and distort with time; why are music memories so sharply encoded?

A: I know from my own experience that it’s a very powerful way to remember things. I’ve found that in the short time we’ve been playing music we can convey the gist of a concept with a three-minute song that we’d need a chapter for in a book and many, many hours of painstaking work to get across. Then people read it and they forget everything. But you can just sing the line, “An emotional brain is a hard thing to tame,” which captures the essence of the concept, and people remember it.

*A folk remedy


“A folk remedy* for insomnia, the scent in lavender flowers, has now been proved effective. In a recent study, 30 volunteers with chronic insomnia slept each night for three weeks on lavender-scented pillows in a controlled room where their sleep was monitored. During the first week, volunteers continued to take their usual sleeping medication. They slept soundly but wakened feeling tired. During the second week, the volunteers discontinued their medication. As a result, they slept less soundly than the previous week and felt even more tired. During the third week, the volunteers slept longer and more soundly than in the previous two weeks. This shows that over a short period of time lavender cures insomnia.

*A folk remedy is usually a plant-based form of treatment common to traditional forms of medicine, ones that developed before the advent of modern medical services and technology.”

Yeah, that’s right Mr. GRE. I got yer folk remedy right here.

Anemones, in the corner of my mind

Hey, remember these things? They come in crazy colors. You wouldn’t believe me if I told you, so go find some anemones and look at them. I can’t think of any other animals that are named after flowers, but these are. I also don’t know of any flowers that shoot neurotoxin-laced harpoons at their prey, either, but these do.

No, really, that’s it. Just look at some anemones, and maybe exclaim “Ooh!” like I did. Sometimes that’s enough to get you through the day.

D is for Diatom

Yes, diatoms. And yes, reminding. Everything is reminding, if you
think about it, we are social creatures and in general, military
intelligence aside, we are very forthcoming about making what we know
known to the rest of the hive, don’t think about you knowing something
or me knowing something, think about the human tribe knowing
something, you may not know anything about how astronauts brush their
teeth in space but I can remind you about it by just sending you a
book. Nobody asks one ant to build an anthill, just like nobody asks
one neuron if it can tell you which way to the Self, it will just say
“Yes,” or if it is having an off-day, it might tell you “No,” and then
you might ask a neighboring neuron who seems a little more excited, it
might tell you “Yes Yes Yes” but that’s still no good if your question
was “Where?” it’s like trying to ask a fish how it swims when you’ve
got it on the deck of your boat flailing around, it’s just going to
keep saying “Water Water Water” over and over again, and you’ll think
hey, that’s a strange answer because I was expecting something about
muscle contractions and fins and scales.

This whole notion of one person knowing more than somebody else is
going to become moot eventually, it will just be a matter of one
person knowing where to look for the information, teachers will
eventually not have to do anything but help people come up with the
right questions to ask (that is, after they have taught them that two parallel
lines with one perpendicular line halfway between is “H” and sounds
like “aych” which starts the word “hippopotamus”). Don’t you
know that art and science and spirituality are all going to merge
(back) into one thing eventually anyway, these Victorian-era divisions
people have between Buddhism and Neuroscience are already becoming
irrelevant, how cool would it have been if Jesus the carpenter
would’ve had access to woodscrews back in the day, I’ll bet he would
have made some pretty awesome tables and chairs, take that, all you
humdrum Ikea designers sitting around in the cold northern countries
of Europe.

The picture came from here.


… and the Oscar for “Best Linnaean Mnemonic on the RFJ Blog” goes to:
(Choose your favorite)

Regnum parlorus
1. Kings Play Cards On Fat Green Stools
2. Kings Play Chess On Fine Grained Sand
3. Kings Play Checkers On Fine Glass Stools
4. Kings Play Chess On Fridays, Generally Speaking

Regnum philipium
5. King Phillip Cried Out, “For Goodness Sake!
6. King Phillip Cuts Open Five Green Snakes
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To the vector belong the spoils

It’s a beautiful book, to be sure, but how fortunate we are that Chuck Jones met up with Norton Juster and made this mathy gem, which might actually surpass the bound version. Enjoy a famous love story, animated, entitled The Dot and The Line.

(Thanks, Centrepital Notion.)