Snippets

          The postponed Olympics from last summer are supposed to be held this summer, and many of us will watch sports that we only watch every four or, in this case, five years. I, for example, haven’t seen a decathlon since the last Olympiad, and I expect to hear announcers intone that the decathletes “are competing to be the best athlete in the world.” That tagline never made sense. Yes, those competitors are amazing, but there are many athletic abilities that are not part of a decathlon, which only incorporates track and field skills. Other talents are needed for making a soccer or American football pass, hitting a baseball, driving the basketball lane, or zooming down a ski jump. The range of sports around the world demanding diverse skills is amazing, and the decathlon tests only a tiny fraction of athletic abilities. The modern pentathlon would seem to be a better test of all-around athletic skill than its ten-part counterpart. The pentathletes compete in fencing, equestrian jumping, swimming, and a cross country race with periodic stops for shooting. Now that is a collection of diverse athletic skills.

          As a part-time resident of the Keystone state, I was interested in the recent news article that said conservation groups were suing to denominate the Eastern hellbender an endangered species. The Eastern hellbender is a less than cuddly salamander that can grow two feet in length. Two years ago it was named Pennsylvania’s official amphibian although the picture of the governor signing the denomination did not include a picture of an Eastern hellbender. The news article said that the animal got its name because the early American settlers described it as “a creature from hell where it’s bent on returning.” One moniker, however, is not enough for this creature because it goes by the increasingly intriguing names of “mud devil,” “lasagna lizard,” and “snot otter.” The vote to name it the state amphibian was lopsided, but it had competition for the little-known trophy from the Wehrle’s salamander, which is named after the late naturalist R.W. Wehrle, of Indiana, Pa. Reading this factoid doubled my knowledge of Indiana, Pa., residents. I already knew that Jimmy Stewart was born and raised there. I am convinced that the brief news report contains the seeds of many jokes, but I haven’t come up with any, so I am posting this, I must admit, so that I can write “lasagna lizard” and “snot otter.”  Let’s do that again: lasagna lizard; snot otter.

          The phone call was with someone who had recently retired and moved to my part-time Pennsylvania community. After we had discussed governance issues, he discovered that I was talking to him from New York City. He was surprised and asked if I was afraid to go out. I started to say that I was cautious about Covid, but Brooklyn was no worse than where he was, when he said, “Friends of mine tell me that after the George Floyd protests, they are afraid to go out in New York City.” I did not know what to say. Those protests ended nine months ago. Is it fair to make conclusions about him from this? What should they be if I do?

“It is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances.” Oscar Wilde.

“The boiling point of water is straightforward, but the boiling point of societies is mysterious.” Rebecca Solnit, The Encyclopedia of Trouble and Spaciousness.

Snippets

One More Reason to Celebrate

Hooray! Hooray!

The first of May;

Outdoor screwing

Begins today!

Anonymous

 

A portion of a museum had erotic ceramics from cultures that predated the Incas in Peru. I wondered: “Surely they did not refer to it as the missionary position.  What did they call it?”

 

“Love does not consist in gazing at each other but in looking outward in the same direction.” Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.

 

The president and his panderers say we need a border wall to stop both the flow of illegal immigrants and illegal drugs from Mexico. However, once the people and drugs cross the Rio Grande, they are not stopped. If we are telling Mexico that they must do more, we should be saying the same to Texas. The drugs and people seem to traverse the Lone Star State rather easily. The undocumented and the heroin go right past Houston and San Antonio and Dallas and find their way to St. Louis and Fargo and Chicago and Des Moines. It is as if Texas is a sanctuary state without drug laws. If we are going to come down hard on Mexico, perhaps we should say that Texas has to stop this illegal traffic or we will build a wall on its northern border.

 

“Seek simplicity and distrust it.” Alfred North Whitehead.

 

As a part-time resident of the Keystone state, I was interested in the news report that by a 191-6 vote (the story did not say of what body), Pennsylvania had adopted as its official amphibian the Eastern hellbender, a salamander that can grow to two feet in length, and also goes by the increasingly intriguing names of mud devil, lasagna lizard, and snot otter. The vote was lopsided, but the report said that the hellbender had competition for this trophy from the Wehrle’s salamander, which is named after the late naturalist R.W. Wehrle, of Indiana, Pa. This doubled my knowledge of Indiana, Pa., residents. Jimmy Stewart was born and raised there. I am convinced that this brief news report contains the seed of many jokes, but I haven’t come up with any, so I am posting this, I must admit, so that I can write “lasagna lizard” and “snot otter.”  Let’s do that again: lasagna lizard; snot otter.

 

As I passed a group of toddlers on the sidewalk after some rain, I heard the teacher calmly state, “It is your choice whether you walk in any puddles.  But first think about whether that is a good choice.”