The Noose

Self pulled a switcheroo one sleepless night and decided to read Ethel Rosenberg: An American Tragedy. Something about the prose, something about the hour, something about her mood — she put aside Chris Offutt for later.

The past few days, she’s been reading about idealistic young Ethel Rosenberg, and she hopes her heart doesn’t break too much later, when Ethel is sentenced. It’s bad enough reading about what a hard worker she was, how determined she was to be a good wife and mother, and how all her life she yearned for music and scrimped and saved to buy herself a piano.

Of Julius and Ethel, it is pretty clear that Ethel is probably more intelligent. Definitely, she’s the one more rooted in family (as the woman usually is, even now). So when Julius gets flattered into passing on information to a Russian agent on p. 58, it is quite a gut punch.

Julius Rosenberg to his Russian “handler,” Alexander Feklisov, who was four years Julius’s senior, who’d “been working in New York since 1940”:

  • “I know you may not be aware of it, but our meetings are among the happiest moments of all my life . . . I have a wonderful wife and son whom I adore but you are the only person who knows all my secrets and it’s very important to be able to confide to someone.”

Damn you, Julius Rosenberg and also damn you, Alexander Feklisov!

The Russians expressed skepticism, remarking with cool detachment that his “health is nothing splendid.”

The Horror of Florida

Florida County Fined for Mandate

(Wall Street Journal, Thursday, 14 October 2021, p. A6)

The Florida Department of Health fined Leon County $3.57 million for requiring county staff to be vaccinated against Covid-19.

The northwest Florida county, which includes the state capital of Tallahassee, in late July required its employees to show verification of vaccination by Oct. 1, and shortly after that deadline fired 14 workers for not following the mandate, according to the state health department.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in May signed legislation banning vaccine passports in the state, saying lawmakers were protecting residents’ personal choice. There is a $5,000 fine for every violation.

Sentence of the Day, 1st Sunday of October 2021

George Holliday, who recorded the beating of Rodney King, died on September 19th, aged 61.

Lead sentence, The man on the balcony,The Economist Obituary, 2 October 2021:

  • For near on nine minutes, George Holliday stood outside his second-floor windows with his three-pound Sony Handycam clamped to his eye.

It is quite an amazing article.

Help for Afghan Refugees

From the CNN website:

  • As the Taliban increases their grip in Afghanistan, thousands of civilians continue to flee their homes fearing retribution, persecution and general chaos. The refugee crisis there is still taking shape amid growing desperation and uncertainty. Relief workers are scrambling to help. You can assist them through the organizations listed here.

Save the Pupfish!

With just thirty-five Devils Hole pupfish left on the planet, the National Park Service refused to risk a single breeding pair. It was reluctant even to surrender any eggs. After months of argument and analysis, it finally allowed the Fish and Wildlife Service to gather eggs in the off-season, when the chances of their surviving in the cavern were, in any case, low. The first summer, a single egg was collected; it died. The following winter, forty-two eggs were gathered; twenty-nine of these were successfully reared to adulthood.

— Under a White Sky, p. 81

“This is a good sign,” Gumm said.

Love how phlegmatic the scientist is. In truth, “she tries to spend some part of every day by the edge of the tank, just looking at the fish.”

Stay cool, dear blog readers. Stay cool.

Life in Colour Challenge: July, BLUE

Jude at Travel Words hosts the Life in Colour Challenge.

Here’s something on this month’s colour:

  • This month we will be looking for Blue. A primary colour that we look upon almost every day. But don’t forget about the different hues which include indigo and ultramarine, cyan and the other blue-greens such as turquoise, teal, and aquamarine.

Here are some blues from self’s archives:

  • Two friends in Manila started a jewelry business to benefit the women of Marawi, Philippines. All the jewelry is handmade by women from the island. If you would like to order from them, one of them is coming to the States in August, and can ship when she gets here. Here’s her insta page: pagari_ph. And here’s the backstory of what happened in Marawi.
  • Self took the time to drive to the central coast last month. Some of her happiest memories were of driving to the central coast to visit son, who was a student at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. She stopped at Avila Beach, spent a few nights at San Luis Obispo.
  • The parrots were in the Rain Forest exhibit at the California Academy of Sciences. She visited in April.

Stay cool, dear blog readers. Stay cool.

Prize for the Most Deadpan Sentence Ever

After days spent tramping around in a tropical rain forest, wielding a machete to force a path through impenetrable jungle, Wake Forest University Professor “Silman was eager to learn as much as possible about the tree, so that when a new taxonomist could be found to replace the one who had died, he’d be able to send him all the necessary material.”

That sentence is delivered with the same aplomb one would use in describing the activities of, say, Paddington Bear!

CO2 in the Anthropocene

Roughly one-third of the CO2 that humans have so far pumped into the air has been absorbed by the oceans. This comes to a stunning 150 million metric tons. As with most aspects of the Anthropocene, though, it’s not only the scale of the transfer but also the speed that’s significant. A useful (though admittedly imperfect comparison can be made to alcohol. Just as it makes a big difference to your blood chemistry whether you take a month to go through a six-pack or an hour, it makes a big difference to marine chemistry whether carbon dioxide is added over the course of a million years or a hundred. To the oceans, as to the human liver, rate matters.

— Chapter Six: The Sea Around Us, The Sixth Extinction

Finished Chapter I, The Sixth Extinction

Elizabeth Kolbert writes like a dream.

Last paragraph, Chapter I (Atelopus zetecki), The Sixth Extinction:

  • The frogs and the salamander were placed in plastic bags with some leaves to keep them moist. It occurred to me that the frogs and their progeny, if they had any, would never again touch the floor of the rainforest but would live out their days in disinfected glass tanks. That night it poured, and in my coffin-like hammock I had vivid, troubled dreams, the only scene from which I could later recall was of a bright yellow frog smoking a cigarette through a holder.

Sentence of the Day: David Raup

  • “The history of life consists of long periods of boredom interrupted occasionally by panic.” — paleontologist David Raup, quoted by Elizabeth Kolbert in The Sixth Extinction, Chapter I

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