Oliver Sacks From Beyond the Grave

I’m so insanely behind in my reading that I don’t dare get this yet — but it is on the must list.

A book I ran across when all I had to do at night in Cambridge was drink or read was Sacks’s Awakenings and I didn’t put it down for a moment after I got home from work until I was finished and went back and re-read the most intense accounts. A report from a world I had only encountered in glimpses. Few years later he tripled down with The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and I was a fan for good. Search “Oliver Sacks” in this blog and you’ll see he comes up more than I might think.


R.I.P.: Michel Jouvet

I knew only bits about his remarkable career. My mother was fascinated by dreams and astrology (thought they were related in some way I could never quite understand — dreams predict the future, maybe). But for her (born 1910) and my father (born 1890) dreams were utterly mysterious, unexplained in any way. (The one item I most wish I could find in my mother’s possessions is her paperback The Dictionary of Dreams — it’s a kind of lost fantasy compendium.) Neither had read Freud, but he’s gone more into the wastebin than I imagined way back when. So Jouvet’s work is very profound.

But why do dolphins and whales not dream?

Aztec and Eclipse

I cannot resist the notion that the first across-the-USA total eclipse was a sign of evil times. But the happier chips of me left take comfort in one of the huge benefits of science, in this case astronomy, in making a reasonably predictable universe. Otherwise, the sun going out could be the beginning of freakin’ anything, including that it would not come back.

The Aztecs had a particularly creepy mythology associated with eclipses: the sun was under attack from the stars you could see around it when it turned black. These are the female deities/demons Tzitzimime, quite the monsters.

Some images:







The Queen.

Couple Things That Really Improved in My Lifetime

If only to counter general shadows and doubts …

Store-bought food for dogs and cats — dogs especially — now amounts to something they actually enjoy eating and is better for their health (though we have not had pets for decades). Ranch-raised dogs in my youth looked tortured as they fought off starvation by snarfing meat-flavored grains. And I remember vets repeatedly telling us how many cats came in with digestive disaster because they weren’t fed properly. One unfortunate side effect was that our dogs were all terrible dinner-table beggars — amusing on occasion, annoying more of the time.

As a kid in bed, all I had to fight off the most extreme cold of winter was enormous feather quilts. I felt smothered and couldn’t move properly. Then came the miracle of the electric blanket. Wasn’t as heavy, for sure, but felt as natural as sleeping on a hot frying pan. With modern materials, you can enjoy a couple light layers extra that keep you snug as you want. Whew.