Your Dog Loves You

Short Wave – Does Your Dog REALLY Love You? – December 2, 2019

Dog Is Love: Why and How Your Dog Loves You by Clive Wynne

I avoid using the L-word in my scientific writing. We talk about exceptional gregariousness. We talk about hypersociability. When we’re doing science, we have to find terms that can be operationalized, or things that can be measured. We can measure whether a dog chooses to go for a bowl of food or its owner when it’s separated from both food and its owner for many hours. We can measure how hormonal levels go up in both dogs and their owners when they look into each other’s eyes.

Clive Wynne Washington Post Interview

A Major Improvement

The Children of Hurin (2007)

I picked up The Silmarillion after reading The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings on a suggestion from a fellow reader that I was sweet on during my senior year in high school. The other works of J.R.R. Tolkien that I read had been a wonder to experience, but I wanted desperately to know more of the Elves, and to dig into the rich history of Middle Earth that was hinted at in them. The Silmarillion satisfied that curiosity, but left me wondering what the notes that Christopher Tolkien had used to create the compilation that was The Silmarillion had looked like before he had tried to arrange them into a cohesive narrative after his father’s death in 1973. I can only imagine the size of that herculean task, given the scattering of notes that every writer generates over the course of their lifetime.

Many people have complained over the years about the heavy slog that The Silmarillion was for them to read. That was not my experience of the book, but I could tell that The Silmarillion was not the direct works of J.R.R. Tolkien, or rather that the work it represented was not as refined as his later published works had been. I don’t place blame on Christopher Tolkien for this lack of refinement. He had nothing but notes to work from, a loose framework of tales written over several decades, as J.R.R. Tolkien pursued his passion for telling fantastic tales of Elves, Dwarves and Men. Tales that publishers of the time refused to publish for fear that the works simply would not sell.

I wonder what would have happened to his best-loved works, had his earlier passions not be frustrated by recalcitrant publishers? Would we even have the stories of Hobbits, the creation of Hobbiton as a location in Middle Earth, if Tolkien had been satisfied to see his earlier labors rewarded? We’ll never know.

I have wanted to get my hands on the twelve volume set of The History of Middle Earth, what was promised to be the definitive collection of the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, published serially from the years 1983 to 1996, since I first heard rumor of its existence. I was desperately trying to stay in the business of architecture by that time, trying to raise two children to boot, and I had little time for reading for fun during those years. But I kept my eye out on the rare occasion that I made it into libraries and bookstores, hoping that I might run across them so that I could at least touch them on a shelf somewhere. I never have had the chance to find all twelve of them at a bargain price, and when I looked on Amazon.com today there are several sets of books listed that promise to be the definitive collection of the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, some of them even calling themselves The History of Middle Earth, but aren’t the originally published twelve separate books. All of them requiring more cash than I’m willing to spend just to set them on a shelf in my library.

The back and forth eye motion of reading text on a printed page has gotten difficult, sometimes even producing minor bouts of vertigo when I have tried to push myself to read for any lengthy amount of time. I doubt that I could ever bring myself to go through all twelve volumes of the set all on my own, if I had to read them directly. The last few times I tried reading anything on the printed page I became fatigued so quickly that I had to resort to buying the works on audiobook just to be able to finish them.

When The Wife and I ran across the Children of Hurin on Audible recently, read by Christopher Lee, we both agreed that we needed to get it. She loves Christopher Lee having grown up watching him play Dracula in all the old Hammer films. His narration of Children of Hurin was beautiful to listen to. I couldn’t have asked for a better voice to bring J.R.R. Tolkien’s words to life. The story itself is a major improvement on the rough draft of the story that is preserved in The Silmarillion. There is more depth to the work in this form, the story of Turin Turambar and his sister made all the more tragic by the voice of Christopher Lee. It is a credit to both of the authors who have worked on these stories over the course of their lives that this version flows so well from beginning to end. I can’t recommend it highly enough to any Tolkien fan.

TÚRIN TURAMBAR DAGNIR GLAURUNGA

Writers Write

I’m a slow worker and I think a steady worker. You know, so many writers don’t like to write. I think that is their chief complaint. They hate to write. They must, they do it under the compulsion that makes any artist what he is. But they really don’t enjoy sitting down and trying to turn a thought into a reasonable sentence. But I do. I like to write, and sometimes I’m afraid that I like it too much because, when I get into work I don’t want to leave it.

Harper Lee

Her final trial and associated literary work were never finished, as is documented in the book Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee by Casey Cep a story described in this episode of Criminal,

StitcherCriminal Episode 127: The Reverend

In the eyes of those who anxiously seek perfection, a work is never truly completed—a word that for them has no sense—but abandoned; and this abandonment, of the book to the fire or to the public, whether due to weariness or to a need to deliver it for publication, is a sort of accident, comparable to the letting-go of an idea that has become so tiring or annoying that one has lost all interest in it.

Paul Valéry

Thanksgiving

I had set myself to write an article debunking the myth of Thanksgiving this year, but I deleted it as a gift to the memory of my grandmother Dorothy. Dorothy, from Kansas. Here is a link to the Thanksgiving article I wrote about her and my hometown in 2006. It has been updated to reflect a much larger portion of my memories about Leoti itself, along with a couple more images I’ve stumbled on along the way to 2019 from 2006.

RAnt(hony)-ings

There have been Thanksgivings to remember since I wrote that article. I remember one year in particular where we had the entire family/library room of the house full of friends. We watched movies all the rest of that day, we even let someone watch football in another room while we watched movies, a rarity in this house. That was a good year. Most years it’s a bit of turkey and/or ham with some dressing. Pecan pie is a must, especially one made by my mother-in-law. Forget pumpkin pie, that I can do without. I do miss Grandma Dorothy’s cherry pies. Those were without comparison.


It’s Been a Minute with Sam Sanders – Chef Samin Nosrat, Plus Dan Pashman Vs. The Thanksgiving Industrial Complex – November 29, 2019

I refused to eat corn on the cob when it was presented to me this year. The first time that I’ve ever just not eaten food that was presented to me to taste on Thanksgiving. I hate corn on the cob, like I hate most foods that get between my teeth. So I sympathize with Dan Pashman on the subject of there being a Thanksgiving Industrial Complex. Pie. Thanksgiving is about pie. Pie, and stuffing with gravy. I haven’t found a holiday meat that I’m fond of yet. Could salmon be the holiday meat? Stay tuned.

Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking by Samin Nosrat

I’m going to have to give her show on Netflix a chance to convince me that I can cook. But I’m betting even she can’t achieve that herculean task. Threadgill’s Thanksgiving. Don’t knock it till you try it.

Drugwar: The Insanity Continues

Evidence of this? This sixty-five thousand dollar mass spectrometer is being used to determine the safety of street-level drugs.

Morning Edition – Built For Counterterrorism, This High-Tech Machine Is Now Helping Fight Fentanyl – November 27, 2019

Instead of increasing the spending on the drugwar, adding to the millions upon billions of dollars that we currently spend combating the black market in illegal street drugs, how about we just decriminalize drug use and then regulate drug manufacture.

…and we do all of that knowing that some people will still get high, keeping an eye out for abusers so they can get treatment not prison. How about we do that instead? Rather than deploying space age technology to determine what potentially deadly drug was cut with what other potentially deadly additive in some back alley lab somewhere? End the black markets. Stop playing either the part of the Baptist or the Bootlegger for a change.

Suggested reading: High Price: A Neuroscientist’s Journey of Self-Discovery That Challenges Everything You Know About Drugs and Society by Carl Hart
Storming Heaven; LSD and the American Dream by Jay Stevens

Cows Don't Have Fingers, Representative Nunes

“No reasonable person would believe that Devin Nunes’ cow actually has a Twitter account, or that the hyperbole, satire and cow-related jokes it posts are serious facts,” reads the filing in Virginia’s Henrico County Circuit Court. “It is self-evident that cows are domesticated livestock animals and do not have the intelligence, language, or opposable digits needed to operate a Twitter account. Defendant ‘Devin Nunes’ Mom’ likewise posts satirical patronizing, nagging, mothering comments which ostensibly treat Mr. Nunes as a misbehaving child.”

The Sacramento Bee

The OHM’s Tiny Hands

There is a font created that mimics Trump’s juvenile handwriting. It is appropriately named Tiny Hands.

hyperallergic

Hat/Tip to Eric Buck

It’s been three years now. In order to get a sense of the history of what OHM means, I will link a few crucial posts. I wrote The Orange Hate-Monkey (OHM) when it became clear that the Republicans were going to nominate Donald Trump.  I wrote The GOP Cuddles Up To the NSDAP when the GOP refused to ostracize the OHM for his dangerously xenophobic populism. I wrote Caveat Emptor on the day Trump lied with his hand on the Bible and swore to uphold the US constitution. I wrote Bullshit is Bullshit on the day I stopped even trying to catalogue the blatant disregard of the truth by the OHM. It mystifies me why people still listen to him, and why the OHM still holds the office of the president. #MAGA means Misguided Appallingly Gullible Americans. Anyone who believes differently is a MAGA themselves.

Women’s Health in Texas is Still Under Attack

The Planned Parenthood clinic in San Angelo, Texas has closed.

KUT – For Supporters Of Abortion Access, Troubling Trends In Texas – November 18, 2019

Planned Parenthood was the only place in the region that a woman could go to get birth control pills at a reduced cost. To get mammograms and pap smears done. The only place that poor women could go to see to their basic health needs. I know this because The Wife and I relied on that clinic when we lived in San Angelo. Now that clinic is closed and those women who are still in San Angelo have nowhere else to go.

The promise that Conservative Christianists made, that women’s health would not suffer in Texas because of their war on Planned Parenthood, was an outright lie. They don’t care about women’s health, they only care about maintaining male control over the female’s reproductive system. That is the beginning, the middle and the end of the story when it comes to why they hate Planned Parenthood.

It is the same reason why the founder of Planned Parenthood was reviled when she started this movement to care for women’s health first and foremost. She was liberating women from their reliance on men, and men don’t like that. It would be nice if this liars were better at telling the lies they tell. At least you could be comfortable in the lies that way.

RAnt(hony)-ings
RAnt(hony)-ings

Down But Not Out

I’m back! Did you miss me?

On Tuesday I started feeling the effects of an oncoming attack, but I was determined to raid with my group in World of Warcraft as scheduled. We managed to do our average best, although we didn’t clear the entire heroic level of Azshara’s palace the first night. On Wednesday I felt worse. The start of a two-day migraine set in, a knot of pain right in the center of my skull. I did manage to show up and raid again that day, but I wasn’t my best and it showed. Thursday the pain was so bad that I sat in the library with no lights on for the entire day, wishing the pain would go away. Even the monitor for the laptop set to the lowest light setting was bright enough to cause stabbing pain, so I just sat there listening to podcasts wishing I could do something else.

On Friday night the vertigo started. It was pretty mild, compared to vertigo attacks of the past. No projectile vomiting. No lying on the bathroom floor. The room would start spinning, and then I would re-orient myself by staring at a point on the wall for ten minutes or so. When I went to bed the vertigo was so bad and persistent that I couldn’t sleep, and I couldn’t focus on a point in the dark. So I took a valium and finally fell asleep. On Saturday the vertigo could not be dispelled any longer. No amount of re-orientation would make it stop, and I was beginning to get nauseous. Time for the Xanax, which I stayed on for the entire day and through most of Sunday morning.

I woke up about an hour ago. I feel dizzy now. Dizzy, not vertiginous. The lights are still too bright but they don’t hurt like they did Wednesday. I’ve got to go visit my ENT on Tuesday to get a refill on my Betahistine anyway, so at least I’ll have some symptomatic stuff to talk with her about while I’m there. I’m going to try the vestibular exercises that my physical therapist gave me as soon as I publish this. I tried them on Friday when the vertigo started and they just made things worse. Fingers crossed.

RAnt(hony)-ings