October Update

Bought a standard poodle puppy.  Bringing him home October 5, so October will be full of housebreaking, and FUN.




Schiaparelli and Prada Intertwined


Just back from a week in New York.  Besides the Wiley show at The Jewish Museum that I posted about last (July 24), I also visited the Metropolitan Museum to see Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations. The show was excellent, one stunning fashion after another.  Some of those fashions and part of the conversation below.


Ancient and Modern Beauty Intertwined

I just spent a week in NYC, where I saw a stupendous art show: World Stage Israel, by Kehinde Wiley.  At left is one of the beautiful paintings from the show.  Wiley photographs and then paints portraits of people of color set against backgrounds of ancient Hebrew tapestries.  Below is a video about the show.  As you can see, the living, music-making Israeli young men are beautiful, as are the tapestries that partly entwine them. 




Cramming for Global Warming?

A friend of mine says we’re going to treat global warming the way we used to treat exams in high school and college.  We’re going to wait until the last minute and then we’re going to start a major flurry of activity to try to stop and reverse the climate change.

         Alas, I’m afraid he’s right.  This is one way we humans handle big problems.  It’s how the US dealt with World War II.

         Trouble is, the greenhouse gases that will cause tomorrow’s warming are already in the atmosphere today.  And when we finally get around to an effective flurry of activity, we may have to settle for a much warmer earth than we’re used to today. 


Stunning Mars Images

Yahoo News recently published 18 astonishing NASA photos of Mars.  I find all images of actual planets and moons pretty awesome.  They jolt me with a view of reality, so completely outside everyday experience.  Maybe this amazement is what people felt when they realized there were lands on the other side of the earth that no one from Europe had ever visited.  Or when they realized Earth was not the center of the solar system, or of the universe.          

         Yet seeing close-up pictures of the planet next door, I have to catch my breath.  It will be a very long time before humans go to Mars (if ever!), so I know that “next door” is not exactly a short flight away.  But we have been able to send machines, and the machines have faithfully looked at Mars, and traveled around Mars, and sifted Mars.  And they’ve sent back photos of their trips for us to see. 

         The photos make Mars look like a place I could walk around on, if and when I get there.  They make Mars look like Earth.  Yet they also show how strange and different this next-door, earth-like planet is.  Mars looks wonderful in the original meaning of that word:  Full of wonder!


A Time to Every Purpose

A few years ago I read a wonderful book by Marc W Kirschner and John C Gerhart called The Plausibility of Life.  One point the authors make is about the Cambrian Explosion, when all the animal phyla evolved.  The reason no new animal phyla have come about since then, is that animals in an incipient new phylum would just get eaten by much more specialized animals and other organisms that are already around.

         In Stephen J Gould’s Wonderful Life, Gould makes the point that rather than being shaped like trees, the evolving animal phyla stop branching after a while and start to taper, as more successful species and genera thrive and other, less successful ones go extinct.

         Now I’ve come across an amazing quotation from Charles Darwin about the evolution of organic molecules, though he knew nothing of DNA:

         “It is often said that all the conditions for the first production of a living organism are now present, which could ever have been present.  But if we could conceive in some warm little pond… that a …compound was chemically formed ready to undergo still more complex changes, at the present…such matter would be instantly devoured…which would not have been the case before living creatures had formed.”

         So there was Darwin, at the threshold of figuring out the mechanism of biological evolution, already figuring out that once evolution has reached a certain point, it can’t go back again.  I am gradually realizing what genius it took to come up with Darwin’s understanding of evolution.




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