Monday, June 20, 2011

No Need

"How much is this?"

"Fifty lire. It is very cheap."

"All right. I want two extra clips and a box of cartridges."

She brought them from under the counter.

"Have you any need for a sword?" she asked. "I have some used swords very cheap."

"I'm going to the front," I said.

"Oh yes, then you won't need a sword," she said.

--Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms, 1929

Sunday, June 19, 2011

what is called supernatural

“My theory is that the supernatural is the impossible, and that what is called supernatural is only a something in the laws of Nature of which we have been hitherto ignorant.”

--Edward Bulwer-Lytton, “The Haunted and the Haunters; or, The House and the Brain,” 1859

Friday, June 10, 2011

“Ecologists: Time to End Invasive-Species Persecution”

“[S]ome ecologists say it’s time to... demilitarize our environmental borders and accept the inevitable reality of non-native invasion.

“‘People like to have an enemy, and vilifying non-native species makes the world very simple,’ said ecologist Mark Davis of Macalester College. ‘The public got sold this nativist paradigm: Native species are the good ones, and non-native species are bad. It’s a 20th century concept, like wilderness, that doesn’t make sense in the 21st century.’

“Davis is one of 18 ecologists to sign a June 9 Nature essay entitled ‘Don’t judge species on their origins.’ They argue that while some non-natives are indeed destructive, such as Guam’s brown tree snakes and Great Lakes zebra mussels, they’re the exception.

“Most are actually benign, relegated to a lower-class status that reflects prejudice rather than solid science, write the authors. Non-natives are assumed to be undesirable, and their benefits go ignored and unstudied.

“As examples of unfairly maligned invaders, the authors mention Australia’s devil’s claw plants, subject to a 20-year-long plant hunt that’s done little to contain a species that may cause little ecological disturbance. In similar fashion, tamarisk trees in the U.S. southwest have been targeted for 70 years by massive eradication programs, but are now seen as providing important bird habitat. Ditto the honeysuckle, banned in many U.S. states, but providing an apparent boost to native bird biodiversity.

“‘Classifying biota according to their adherence to cultural standards of belonging, citizenship, fair play and morality does not advance our understanding of ecology,’ wrote the essay’s authors. They also consider ecological nativism to be hypocritical — nobody’s complaining about lilacs or ring-necked pheasants — and a form of denialism: In a globalized, human-dominated world, plants and animals will get around.

“‘Most human and natural communities now consist both of long-term residents and of new arrivals,’ they wrote.”

--Brandon Keim, Wired, 2011 June 8

“Чи монгол Эр хүн тул уйлж болохгүй. Харин бид бол өөр.”

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

the ex-Corporal

"...[T]he whole Reichstag and an astounding array of Generals had been summoned to hear his speech.  Appropriately this glittering event took place in the Kroll Opera House.  Hitler's speech was a long one and he used it to claim personal credit for the victories of 1940.  'I advised the German forces of the possibility of such a development and gave them the necessary detailed orders,' said the ex-Corporal to one of the most dazzling arrays of military brains ever gathered under one roof....

"When the applause of that multitude of Generals, politicians, and foreign dignitaries died away, Hitler began to distribute the honours. He created no less than twenty-seven new Generals.  Mostly they were men who had commanded armies or panzer groups to win for him the great victories in Poland, Norway, and the west.  But artfully Hitler arranged that yes-men such as Alfred Jodl and Wilhelm Keitel who had told Hitler, 'my Führer, you are the greatest military commander of history' got double promotions and seniority.  While Gustav von Wietersheim — whose motorized infantry corps had consolidated the panzer thrust by which Guderian skewered France — was passed over because he had argued with the Führer in 1938....

"So many new promotions were announced that there was not time for the Generals to receive Hitler's personal congratulations.  As each name was called, a General stood up and gave the Nazi salute....

"By the time that Hitler had finished creating Generals, and no less than a dozen Field Marshals, there could have been few men in the opera house who did not understand that this was a cunning piece of megalomania that, while thoroughly debasing the coinage of high rank, defined Hitler as the man who owned the mint.

"It was an unprecedented step.  The Kaiser made only five Field Marshals in the whole of the First World War.  Even General Erich Ludendorff had failed to find a baton in his knapsack.  Now Hitler made twelve after less than a year of war, and the fighting had covered only a few weeks. But the new Generalfeldmarschalle were delighted.  In Germany such exalted rank, from which the holder could neither be retired nor demoted (or even promoted), brought the provision of an office, a secretary, a staff officer, motor vehicles and horses, and full pay and privileges.  And all this for life or until defeat.  A Field Marshal ranked above Reich Chancellor in the protocol lists but not above Führer, which was a new post invented by Hitler for himself."

--Len Deighton, Fighter: The True Story of the Battle of Britain, 1977