Thursday, January 28, 2010

J.D. Salinger Jan. 1, 1919 - Jan. 27, 2010

I've just learned of J.D. Salinger's death, yesterday in the small New England village where he has spent the last fifty years of his reclusive life. He was 91 years old.

It's pretty hard to discuss the passing of someone who was so renowned for avoiding public scrutiny; and, you can't really analyze someone you've never met. I guess the truth is, all I know about J.D. Salinger is that news of his passing made me cry, and that the characters in his stories were among my closest companions throughout my teenage years.

The Catcher in the Rye was written in 1951; I read it in 1962 when my boyfriend/literary genius/guy who hung the moon discovered it with such an abundance of astonished glee, it seemed he might have found a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow in his front yard. And, that was pretty much the case.

We read, devoured, digested and internalized J.D. Salinger and his iconic characters : Holden Caulfield, Phoebe Caulfield, older brother D.B.,Franny and Zooey Glass, Seymour Glass. We naturally were closest to Holden, his eloquence, tenderness, sarcasm, humor and honest analysis of the world and the people around him.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Great Actor - Great Guy - Big Lebowski

I've been away from the Land of the Painted Possum for a while, due to LIFE. But it's time to talk about one of my favorite guys.

Most of you have probably heard about Jeff Bridges' loving and gracious tribute to his wife, Sue, at the Screen Actors Guild Awards. When he was asked about his family life, he asked his wife to come to the podium with him to answer the question.

I've been a Jeff Bridges fan since I saw him in Rancho Deluxe in 1975. Have you ever loved a movie just because of one single line of funny dialogue?

And of course everybody remembers The Last Picture Show. That was before Rancho Deluxe. Then there was Starman in 1984, a Sci-Fi love story and truly one of the best movies ever filmed. Tucker, the Man and His Dream in 1988 was fabulous; The Fabulous Baker Boys was fabulous; See You in the Morning was sweet, Texasville, 1990, wonderful. The list is too long to include every stellar Jeff Bridges movie.

But, what about The Big Lebowski, 1998! This is the funniest movie in the world! Am I exagerating? Everybody who has ever seen The Big Lebowski says the same thing!

So now we have Crazy Heart, 2009, winning awards already, with Bridges playing an alcoholic former country-western star, Bad Blake, who's reduced to playing bowling alleys. I've heard that this one is definitely Academy Award material.

I haven't seen it yet, but I have no doubt that this will be a good one!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A Message from Our President

Good Afternoon,

The reports and images from Haiti of collapsed hospitals, crumbled homes, and men and women carrying their injured neighbors through the streets are truly heart-wrenching. As we learn more about the extent of the devastation, our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Haiti and Haitian Americans around our country who do not yet know the fate of their families and loved ones back home.

I have directed my Administration to respond with a swift, coordinated and aggressive effort to save lives. The people of Haiti will have the full support of the United States Government in the urgent effort to rescue those trapped beneath the rubble and to deliver the humanitarian relief -- the food, water and medicine -- that Haitians will need in the coming days.

This is also a time when we are reminded of the common humanity that we all share, and Americans have always responded to these situations with generosity of spirit. If you would like to support the urgent humanitarian effort in Haiti, I encourage you to visit our website where you can learn more about how to contribute:

Americans trying to locate family members in Haiti are encouraged to contact the State Department at (888) 407-4747.
We will continue to stand with the people of Haiti and keep them in our thoughts and prayers.


Barack Obama

Friday, January 8, 2010

The Ethics of Human-Dolphin Interaction

Scientists say dolphins should be treated as 'non-human persons'

Dolphins have been declared the world’s second most intelligent creatures after humans, with scientists suggesting they are so bright that they should be treated as “non-human persons”. Studies show how dolphins have distinct personalities, a strong sense of self and can think about the future.

Studies into dolphin behaviour have highlighted how similar their communications are to those of humans and that they are brighter than chimpanzees. These have been backed up by anatomical research showing that dolphin brains have many key features associated with high intelligence.
The researchers argue that their work shows it is morally unacceptable to keep such intelligent animals in amusement parks or to kill them for food or by accident when fishing. Some 300,000 whales, dolphins and porpoises die in this way each year.

“Many dolphin brains are larger than our own and second in mass only to the human brain when corrected for body size,” said Lori Marino, a zoologist at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, who has used magnetic resonance imaging scans to map the brains of dolphin species. “The neuro-anatomy suggests psychological continuity between humans and dolphins, and has profound implications for the ethics of human-dolphin interactions,” she added.
Thomas White, professor of ethics at Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, has written a series of academic studies suggesting dolphins should have rights. “The scientific research suggests that dolphins are ‘non-human persons’ who qualify for moral standing as individuals,” he said.

Dolphins have long been recognized as among the most intelligent of animals. But many researchers had placed them below chimps, which some studies have found can reach the intelligence levels of three-year-old children. Recently, however, a series of behavioural studies has suggested that dolphins, especially species such as the bottlenose, could be the brighter of the two. The studies show how dolphins have distinct personalities, a strong sense of self and can think about the future.

It has also become clear that they are “cultural” animals, meaning that new types of behaviour can quickly be picked up by one dolphin from another.
Studies show that bottlenose dolphins can recognize themselves in a mirror and use the mirror reflection to inspect various parts of their bodies, an ability that had been thought limited to humans and great apes. There are many similar examples, such as the way dolphins living off Western Australia learned to hold sponges over their snouts to protect themselves when searching for spiny fish on the ocean floor.

Other research has shown dolphins can solve difficult problems, while those living in the wild co-operate in ways that imply complex social structures and a high level of emotional sophistication.

It has been found that captive dolphins also have the ability to learn a rudimentary symbol-based language.