Eat Carp ?

One nice weekend day, a long time ago, Brian and I stopped in a park on the Fox River      at Dundee.  Among a lot of people, there was a group with a lot of fishing lines in the water and fifty gallon drums in which they were keeping their fish.  A young woman noticed my interest and said, “Carp, Americans not eat, we eat.” We do regard carp as bottom-feeding nuisances of no value, though the giant Asian carp that have recently invaded  the Illinois River and jump knocking people out of their boats are harvested for food. We learn in the article here that Europeans who were settling here 150 years ago were surprised to find no carp, because it was a staple food in their home countries and was even farmed. Eventually federal and state authorities in the U.S. encouraged carp farming and their introduction to Midwest waters.

History of Common Carp in North America

The Common Carp’s Introduction into North America
Arriving in the United States during the mid-1800s, increasing waves of immigrants could scarcely believe that this vast new land had no carp – it had been a cultivated food source, garden element, and symbol of strength and courage in Asia for over 4,000 years, and similarly esteemed in Europe for nearly 2,000!I  Inspired by the European model (whereby the Austrian princes of Schwarzenberg maintained 20,000 acres of carp ponds), scattered entrepreneurs began to import the prized fish, hoping to provide a familiar, profitable food staple to the rapidly growing nation. Julius A. Poppe was one of the most successful, expanding a stock of five common carp imported from Germany in 1872 into a thriving California farm by 1876. Fielding orders from throughout the country, he actively began to lobby for national cultivation of the hearty fish:

There ought to be one person in every county who would raise choice carp as stock fish to sell to others to fatten for their own tables. It would be a cheap but sumptuous food and at the same timevery convenient, as they are ready to be eaten at all times of the year. (Gapen, p. 8).

Faced with such public pressure to make carp more widely available and the worrisome decline of native fish stocks after a century of intense exploitation, the U.S. Commission of Fish and Fisheries began an intensive effort of carp cultivation in 1877. Subsequent efforts by state Fish Commissions had introduced the carp to many area waters by 1883, and the fish’s remarkable ability to live and reproduce in most every water condition allowed it to quickly infiltrate others. A Fish once Prized, Now Despised By the turn of the century, the introduction of the carp was such a “success” that both public agencies and sportsmen had come to regard the fish as a nuisance. While tons of free-swimming carp were being harvested from area waters, they were comparable in taste to neither the selectively bred pool-cultivated carp of Europe nor, it was believed, to many of the native “game” species, and were thus useless as a food source. Moreover, their rapid spread appeared to threaten both water quality and native species, as commissioners nationwide noted a deterioration of formerly clear and fertile lakes and waterways upon the arrival of carp. Standing on clear-cut hillsides with a bucket of garbage in each hand, they looked down on the rivers, saw carp swirling happily in the mess humans had created, and made a correlation – albeit the wrong one – between the rise of carp and the fall of game fish. Either ignorant of or blind to the damages they themselves had wrought on the landscape, people looked past the dredged and straightened channels, drained wetlands, eroded riverbanks, and waters laden with human and industrial waste, saw carp roiling in the shallows, and accused them of wrecking the water. (Buffler and Dickson, p. 74). As the carp is both a prodigious reproducer and highly tolerant of pollution, it spreads quickly through waters in which most native species cannot live. In the early 1990s, for example, biologists exposed control groups of carp to 1600 chemicals commonly present in United States waters; only 135 of the pollutants killed all the fish. This is not to deny that the carp can have a negative impact on its own, however. A bottom-feeder, it roots along the floor of a body of water, frequently uprooting vegetation, and sucks in mud and other matter — after filtering out nutrients, it spits the restout. This increases the turbidity (muddiness) of water, which in turn reduces the ability of predator fish (such as pike or walleye) to see their prey. The amount of sunlight received by plants also decreases, reducing their growth — as plants disappear, so do the waterfowl which depend upon them for food. Carp can quickly crowd out other fish with sheer numbers, as well, as females lay up to 2 million eggs when spawning, and fry can grow as large as 8″ in the first year. Thus, the health of numerous small lakes and fisheries has suffered from the presence of the carp. However, the fish’s impact upon larger bodies of waters remains minimal when compared to that of human activity. Controlling the Carp Due to the perceived impacts of the carp upon our waters, concentrated state efforts to permanently eliminate the fish by trapping, seining and poisoning were frequently undertaken early in the century. Few were entirely successful, however, as the carp was simply too adept at reproducing and thriving in our polluted waters. (Having learned from the introduction of carp and other organisms, exotic species control programs presently take an aggressive preventative approach to their spread from the beginning). Conceding to the fish’s permanence, carp removal programs began in the 1950s to concentrate instead upon the control of carp populations and their migration into gamefish waters. Despite the best intentions and desires of decades of anglers, the once common practice of leaving accidentally landed carp along the shore, instead of returning them to the water, has likewise failed to make a permanent impact upon most fishing hole’s carp populations. In some cases, in fact, the removal of similar native species with which the carp is often confused has actually aided carp proliferation. In an effort to prevent such instances, as well as to reduce the occurrence of piles of rotting fish along the State’s waters (of which only dogs were typically fond), Minnesota declared the practice illegal in 1981. Ironically, the greatest present promise for carp control hearkens back more than a century, when carp was intended to become a great renewable food source. A steady, or hopefully increasing, market for carp and carp products could today provide the prolonged check upon their population that State removal programs have been unable to due to limited resources. Most State agencies, in fact, have favored State-regulated commercial fishing to removal programs since the early 1980s. Of course, the waters in which carp are the most prevalent are generally the most polluted, as well — while we can do our best to eat our way through the carp problem, then, we can have an even greater effect upon their numbers when we clean up the dirty waters in which they thrive. Visit the WaterShed Partners for ideas on how cleaning up your home, yard and neighborhood can benefit your local rivers and the lives they support.

You can click on these links:

10 Powerful Women


Susan sends this  with the comment, Dad–the size of these corporations !                          rjn responds  Thanks, enormous corporations have enormous influence on our government.  There was a story in Atlantic magazine a few months ago about how the coal companies supported by the miners own and run West Virginia.


Facebook's COO Sheryl Sandberg delivers the Class Day address at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts May 28, 2014, one day ahead of Commencement Exercises at the university. © Brian Snyder/Newscom/Reuters
No. 10: Sheryl Sandberg

Title: COO, Facebook
Previous rank: 5
Age: 45

Last year was all about Sandberg: Her bestselling book, “Lean In,” helped her become the face of corporate gender equality. This year is all about Facebook (FB). Its 2013 profits jumped an astounding 2,730 percent, mainly because of increased revenue from mobile ads, and it announced huge deals in early 2014 to acquire virtual-reality company Oculus VR for over $2 billion and buzzy messaging platform WhatsApp for $19 billion.

As CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s No. 2, Sandberg remains crucial to the company’s long-term strategy. She’s also the best-paid woman on our list, making $38 million last year.

For 9 more women:  Source


I Don’t Stink !


Several summers ago I got into bed with Alice and she said, “You smell.”  I knew I was clean and said so.  The next night I got into bed, and she said, “You smell.”  I ignored her remark and then remembered something.  I got up and pulled my sandals out from under the bed and sniffed them.  Ugh !   I took them our of the bedroom for later later disinfecting.

Here’s what I remembered that night.  A doctor on the radio told about a man who developed terrible body odor and couldn’t find anyone to tell him what his problem was.

He lost his friends, his business, and his family, because no one could tolerate his scent.

He had become sure he did not want to live any longer, when someone told him about a healer in India who might be able to help,

When he’d found the man, he begged for help. The healer, I don’t remember whether he was an MD, had him lie on a bed and began to examine him by sniffing.

He sniffed the hair, ears, nose, and mouth of his client.  He lifted one arm and sniffed the length of it, armpits to finger tips.  He picked up the other arm and did the same, but then took off a ring and smelled it.  He asked the client about it, a large open-work piece which the man had worn all his adult life, never taking it off.  It was giving off the noxious odor that had ruined a life.  Study showed that a colony of bacteria had infested the little, irregular openings in the object.

As with my sandals.




Research Makes Us Laugh, Think


Note:  A few years ago a U. S. Congressman publicly ridiculed a study he found in a list of government-supported research projects.  Topic–intestinal gas released by cattle.  These emissions contain methane, now studied as a contributor to global-warming. rjn

2009 Public Health prize demonstration

Ig Nobel Prize Winner Dr. Elena Bodnar demonstrates her invention (abrassiere that can quickly convert into a pair of protective face masks) assisted by Nobel laureates Wolfgang Ketterle (left), Orhan Pamuk, and Paul Krugman (right). Photo credit: Alexey Eliseev, 2009 Ig Nobel Ceremony


About The Ig® Nobel Prizes

“The Stinker”, the official mascot of the Ig Nobel Prizes.
The Ig Nobel Prizes honor achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think. The prizes are intended to celebrate the unusual, honor the imaginative — and spur people’s interest in science, medicine, and technology.

Every September, in a gala ceremony in Harvard’s Sanders Theatre, 1100 splendidly eccentric spectators watch the winners step forward to accept their Prizes.  These are physically handed out by genuinely bemused genuine Nobel Laureates.

The 2014 Ig Nobel Prize Winners

The 2014 Ig Nobel Prizes were awarded on Thursday night, September 18th, 2014 at the 24th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony, at Harvard’s Sanders Theatre. The ceremony waswebcast live.

PHYSICS PRIZE [JAPAN]: Kiyoshi Mabuchi, Kensei Tanaka, Daichi Uchijima and Rina Sakai, for measuring the amount of friction between a shoe and a banana skin, and between a banana skin and the floor, when a person steps on a banana skin that’s on the floor.  REFERENCE: “Frictional Coefficient under Banana Skin,” Kiyoshi Mabuchi, Kensei Tanaka, Daichi Uchijima and Rina Sakai, Tribology Online 7, no. 3, 2012, pp. 147-151.

NEUROSCIENCE PRIZE [CHINA, CANADA]: Jiangang Liu, Jun Li, Lu Feng, Ling Li, Jie Tian, and Kang Lee, for trying to understand what happens in the brains of people who see the face of Jesus in a piece of toast. REFERENCE: “Seeing Jesus in Toast: Neural and Behavioral Correlates of Face Pareidolia,” Jiangang Liu, Jun Li, Lu Feng, Ling Li, Jie Tian, Kang Lee, Cortex, vol. 53, April 2014, Pages 60–77. The authors are at School of Computer and Information Technology, Beijing Jiaotong University, Xidian University, the Institute of Automation Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China, and the University of Toronto, Canada. REFERENCE: “Seeing Jesus in Toast: Neural and Behavioral Correlates of Face Pareidolia,” Jiangang Liu, Jun Li, Lu Feng, Ling Li, Jie Tian, Kang Lee, Cortex, vol. 53, April 2014, Pages 60–77.

 PSYCHOLOGY PRIZE [AUSTRALIA, UK, USA]: Peter K. Jonason, Amy Jones, and Minna Lyons, for amassing evidence that people who habitually stay up late are, on average, more self-admiring, more manipulative, and more psychopathic than people who habitually arise early in the morning.  REFERENCE: “Creatures of the Night: Chronotypes and the Dark Triad Traits,” Peter K. Jonason, Amy Jones, and Minna Lyons, Personality and Individual Differences, vol. 55, no. 5, 2013, pp. 538-541.

PUBLIC HEALTH PRIZE [CZECH REPUBLIC, JAPAN, USA, INDIA]: Jaroslav Flegr, Jan Havlíček and Jitka Hanušova-Lindova, and to David Hanauer, Naren Ramakrishnan, Lisa Seyfried, for investigating whether it is mentally hazardous for a human being to own a cat.  REFERENCE: “Changes in personality profile of young women with latent toxoplasmosis,” Jaroslav Flegr and Jan Havlicek, Folia Parasitologica, vol. 46, 1999, pp. 22-28.  REFERENCE: “Decreased level of psychobiological factor novelty seeking and lower intelligence in men latently infected with the protozoan parasite Toxoplasma gondii Dopamine, a missing link between schizophrenia and toxoplasmosis?” Jaroslav Flegr, Marek Preiss, Jiřı́ Klose, Jan Havlı́ček, Martina Vitáková, and Petr Kodym, Biological Psychology, vol. 63, 2003, pp. 253–268.  REFERENCE: “Describing the Relationship between Cat Bites and Human Depression Using Data from an Electronic Health Record,” David Hanauer, Naren Ramakrishnan, Lisa Seyfried, PLoS ONE, vol. 8, no. 8, 2013, e70585. WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Jaroslav Flegr, David Hanauer, Naren Ramakrishnan

 BIOLOGY PRIZE [CZECH REPUBLIC, GERMANY, ZAMBIA]: Vlastimil Hart, Petra Nováková, Erich Pascal Malkemper, Sabine Begall, Vladimír Hanzal, Miloš Ježek, Tomáš Kušta, Veronika Němcová, Jana Adámková, Kateřina Benediktová, Jaroslav Červený and Hynek Burda, for carefully documenting that when dogs defecate and urinate, they prefer to align their body axis with Earth’s north-south geomagnetic field lines. REFERENCE: “Dogs are sensitive to small variations of the Earth’s magnetic field,” Vlastimil Hart, Petra Nováková, Erich Pascal Malkemper, Sabine Begall, Vladimír Hanzal, Miloš Ježek, Tomáš Kušta, Veronika Němcová, Jana Adámková, Kateřina Benediktová, Jaroslav Červený and Hynek Burda, Frontiers in Zoology, 10:80, 27 December 27, 2013.

ART PRIZE [ITALY]: Marina de Tommaso, Michele Sardaro, and Paolo Livrea, for measuring the relative pain people suffer while looking at an ugly painting, rather than a pretty painting, while being shot [in the hand] by a powerful laser beam.  REFERENCE: “Aesthetic value of paintings affects pain thresholds,” Marina de Tommaso, Michele Sardaro, and Paolo Livrea, Consciousness and Cognition, vol. 17, no. 4, 2008, pp. 1152-1162.

ECONOMICS PRIZE [ITALY]: ISTAT — the Italian government’s National Institute of Statistics, for proudly taking the lead in fulfilling the European Union mandate for each country to increase the official size of its national economy by including revenues from prostitution, illegal drug sales, smuggling, and all other unlawful financial transactions between willing participants.  REFERENCE: “Cambia il Sistema europeo dei conti nazionali e regionali – Sec2010“, ISTAT, 2014.  REFERENCE: “European System of National and Regional Accounts (ESA 2010),” Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union, 2013.

 MEDICINE PRIZE [USA, INDIA]: Ian Humphreys, Sonal Saraiya, Walter Belenky and James Dworkin, for treating “uncontrollable” nosebleeds, using the method of nasal-packing-with-strips-of-cured-pork.  REFERENCE: “Nasal Packing With Strips of Cured Pork as Treatment for Uncontrollable Epistaxis in a Patient with Glanzmann Thrombasthenia,” Ian Humphreys, Sonal Saraiya, Walter Belenky and James Dworkin, Annals of Otology, Rhinology and Laryngology, vol. 120, no. 11, November 2011, pp. 732-36.

ARCTIC SCIENCE PRIZE [NORWAY, GERMANY, USA, CANADA]: Eigil Reimers and Sindre Eftestøl, for testing how reindeer react to seeing humans who are disguised as polar bears.  REFERENCE: “Response Behaviors of Svalbard Reindeer towards Humans and Humans Disguised as Polar Bears on Edgeøya,” Eigil Reimers and Sindre Eftestøl, Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research, vol. 44, no. 4, 2012, pp. 483-9.

NUTRITION PRIZE [SPAIN]: Raquel Rubio, Anna Jofré, Belén Martín, Teresa Aymerich, and Margarita Garriga, for their study titled “Characterization of Lactic Acid Bacteria Isolated from Infant Faeces as Potential Probiotic Starter Cultures for Fermented Sausages.”  REFERENCE: “Characterization of Lactic Acid Bacteria Isolated from Infant Faeces as Potential Probiotic Starter Cultures for Fermented Sausages,” Raquel Rubio, Anna Jofré, Belén Martín, Teresa Aymerich, Margarita Garriga, Food Microbiology, vol. 38, 2014, pp. 303-311.



Sam’s Language Downfall



New Orleans prosecutor with lofty writing style ignites a firestorm when he is unmasked online
By Timothy M. Phelps | Tribune Newspapers  9.21.14

BRYAN S. BERTAUX/THE TIMES-PICAYUNE  Sal Perricone blamed his downfall on his frustration with crooks and inept officials. 

NEW ORLEANS — Sal Perricone always had something to prove.   Growing up poor and Italian in a city dominated by Creoles and Anglos, Perricone found respect on the streets after high school by becoming a cop. He pulled graveyard shifts to put himself through college and eventually took night classes to earn a law degree while serving as a New Orleans police detective.

   The law degree helped him jump to the FBI, where he was a special agent for five years. In 1991 he landed at the U.S. attorney’s office in New Orleans, crusading against fraud in a city as known for political corruption as it is for jazz. Over two decades, he went after the Mafia, cops, judges and even a former governor. He became one of New Orleans’ most feared prosecutors.

   The people he put behind bars — the thugs, the high-power politicians — were intent on seeing Perricone fall. His enemies left a fake bomb and other death threats on his front porch. They never touched him. Instead, it was his own arrogance and a secret, burning resentment toward the world of privilege and power that brought him down.

   His prosecutorial misconduct was exposed by a pretentious writing style, particularly his fondness for obscure words found usually only on SAT exams or in the work of Victorian poet Robert Browning.

   The “online 21st century carnival” Perricone created, in the words of one federal judge, swept away nearly the entire leadership of one of the nation’s largest U.S. attorney’s offices and imperiled some of the state’s biggest criminal prosecutions.

   Sitting in his office high up over Poydras Street, New Orleans lawyer Billy Gibbens was scanning  , the website of the Times-Picayune newspaper. The site was a magnet for city gossip, so Gibbens made it his business to follow it closely.

   Once a U.S. prosecutor, Gibbens was now a defense attorney, often representing clients charged by his former government colleagues. One   posting that day in January 2012 caught his eye. A blogger calling himself “Henry L. Mencken1951” asserted his “dubiety,” or dubious reaction, to local high school students trying to stop violence by wearing slogans on T-shirts.

   Gibbens had been tracking Mencken1951 ever since the blogger unleashed highly personal and surprisingly well-informed attacks against one of Gibbens’ clients, Frederick Heebe, a businessman facing a federal investigation over a $160 million landfill contract.

   “Heebe comes from a long line of corruptors,” Mencken1951 once posted. “If Heebe had one firing synapse, he would go speak to Letten’s posse and purge himself of this sordid episode.” The reference was to New Orleans U.S. Attorney Jim Letten.

   Gibbens eyed the latest post. Dubiety? Where had he seen that word? He pulled out a legal brief filed a month earlier by the U.S. attorney’s office as part of its investigation into Heebe. In the midst of the government’s argument, he found it: “Their representations would be fraught with dubiety.”

   Was it a coincidence? Gibbens took his hunch to James R. Fitzgerald, a 20-year FBI veteran specializing in the language of crime who had analyzed writings in big cases such as the Unabomber and anthrax mailings.

   Fitzgerald quickly zeroed in on similarities. Mencken1951 and the author of the U.S. attorney’s filing both favored unusual words, including “dubiety” and “redoubt.” Fitzgerald said he found the same words used together only in one other place: an 1869 narrative poem by Browning about the murder trial of a nobleman in Rome.

   Heebe was not the only target of Mencken1951 and several predecessor blogs. The online persona derided President Barack Obama and his “West Wing band of Bolsheviks”

and posted a disturbing message about then-Mayor Ray Nagin: “For all of you who have a penchant for firearms and how they work, Ray Nagin lives on Park Island.”

   Judges were a frequent target, once dismissed as “the crap we get on the federal bench.”

   The blogger had a particular interest in one of the Justice Department’s most high-profile cases: the prosecution of five New Orleans police officers involved in two fatal shootings of unarmed people on the Danziger Bridge in the chaos that followed Hurricane Katrina. In 2011, federal prosecutors won civil rights and obstruction of justice cases against the five, who were sentenced to 38 to 65 years in prison.

   Mencken1951 called New Orleans police “a collection of self-centered, self-interested, self-promoting, insular, arrogant, overweening, prevaricating, libidinous fools … who, when not having sex with each other, (are) beating, burning and abusing the citizens. Thank God for the Feds — can you imagine New Orleans without a Federal presence?”

   Armed with Fitzgerald’s analysis, Gibbens filed a defamation lawsuit against “Mencken1951,” alleging the anonymous online commenter was someone in the U.S. attorney’s office. The suit noted there were three assistant U.S. attorneys who signed the government filing, including one of its best-known prosecutors, Sal Perricone. Perricone was born in 1951, the suit pointed out.

   “Is this you?” Letten demanded.

   The U.S. attorney was reading Gibbens’ suit and had just hung up with a reporter asking about the allegation. Perricone confessed, and Letten “went white,” Perricone recalled.

   Perricone blamed the whole affair on the pressures of the job and burnout. He said he grew increasingly cynical and sullen, tired of crooks who got away and public servants he viewed as inept or abusing their power. He found release on the Internet, he said, adopting a persona brimming with anger and seduced by the illusion of anonymity.

   At first it was comments about current events on public message boards. Soon he was venting bitterly and personally — against former colleagues in the Police Department, judges he knew, businessmen he was investigating and anyone else who struck him as a hypocrite.

   Perricone posted about 2,600 times over five years, increasing in “frequency and malice,” as a federal judge put it. He became the target of two Justice Department investigations, facing criminal charges if he were shown to have revealed secret grand jury testimony.

   A few days after Perricone admitted to the posts, he was told to hand in his retirement papers. News of Perricone’s forced retirement swept through the New Orleans legal community. Within three months, attorneys for the five police officers in the Danziger Bridge killings were challenging their convictions based on Perricone’s Internet postings.

   Letten soon found himself standing before a judge, scrambling to uphold the Danziger convictions. He swore that neither he nor any other supervisor in the office knew what Perricone had been up to.

   Letten’s deputy, Jan Mann, stood silently beside him.

   In the months before Mencken1951 was unmasked, Perricone and Mann, who blogged under the handle “eweman,” had engaged in an online duet on  , often chiming in on the same comment boards, sometimes minutes apart, defending the U.S. attorney’s office and attacking its critics.

   This time, Gibbens noticed that both Mann and eweman favored the term “fender lizards” to describe a cop groupie. He filed another defamation suit. Mann confessed and resigned, as did her husband, James Mann, also a top supervisor in the office who was close to Perricone.

   Letten, widely respected as an effective crusader against corruption, decided he had to step down as well.

   A week after both Manns departed, Karla Dobinski, a senior attorney in the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division in Washington, confessed that she too had posted on   during the Danziger Bridge trial, using the handle “Dipsos,” meaning someone given to drink.

   Judge Kurt Engelhardt ordered a new trial for the police officers, saying the “bizarre and appalling turn of events” represented the first known instance where prosecutors used social media anonymously to circumvent ethical restrictions against public commentary on cases before the court.

   The U.S. attorney also dropped the two-year landfill investigation involving Heebe. Soon defense lawyers for public officials and accused killers alike were filing motions and appeals to get their clients off.

   Today, Perricone lives in exile on the edge of New Orleans, barred from the federal courthouse downtown where he held sway for 21 years.

   When a reporter knocked on his door one recent evening, he was at first belligerent, then reluctant and ultimately unable to resist telling his story, letting his dinner cool as mosquitoes slipped into the house.

   As he stood on his porch and talked for nearly three hours, he suggested over and over that jealousy and grudges accumulated over his two-decade career were behind his downfall.

   “I’ve just been called every damn name in the book, and I’ve really taken a punch,” said Perricone, now 63.

   “I never did anything to influence a jury,” he asserted.

   The Justice Department is appealing Engelhardt’s ruling to grant the police officers a new trial, arguing there is no evidence that any of the jurors saw or were influenced by the blog posts, though several jurors said before the trial that they followed  . It also asked the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to remove Engelhardt from the case, saying it was clear he could not be objective.

   In May, two federal judges revealed that the Justice Department investigations found that Perricone and Jan Mann committed prosecutorial misconduct, but were not guilty of revealing grand jury information.

   The Louisiana State Bar Association may investigate the misconduct charges and could disbar them. The Justice Department said Tuesday that Dobinski still worked there.

   With his law career shattered, Perricone hopes to reinvent himself once again, employing that extensive vocabulary as a fiction writer. He’s working on what he called a “roman a clef” with a title he appears to think reflects his own story: “Blue Steel Crucifix.” 


   U.S. Attorney Jim Letten, left, and his assistants Mike Magner, center, and Billy Gibbens celebrate a win in 2005. Later many of the office’s convictions would be challenged.


   A shell casing lies on Danziger Bridge, where residents were shot in the aftermath of Hurrican Katrina. A judge granted a new trial to police officers convicted of the shootings.






My opinion–yours is welcome!

A lot of people do not vote in an election without a contest for president.

Big mistake!  What happens in an “off-year election” affects what your president can do.  People who voted for Obama and then did not vote in the following “off-year” elections allowed changes in the Senate and the House members that made it hard to impossible for him to get anything done.

On the coming Tuesday, November 4, the Republicans will vote. They will try to strengthen their hold on the House and take control Senate.  And they will do it if Democratic voters stay home.

Please vote.





Question of Language


Susan wrote:  I’m having some trouble with the use of “a” and “an”.  For example, I’ve seen both used for “a historian” and “an historian”.  If both are correct, which do you prefer?

We found that Editors of had written:

This is a contested question.

Let’s start with the basics. A word starting with a vowel sound is preceded by “an,” no matter how it’s spelled. Thus, one would write “an hour” and “an honest woman.” A word starting with a strongly stressed “h” sound is preceded by “a.” Thus, to most Americans, it’s “a hanger” and “a helicopter.”

There are two questions at issue here. The first is what one ought to do with a weakly pronounced “h.” Some—this editor included—would precede it with “an”; others—and this is increasingly preferred—precede it with “a.” The second question is how you yourself pronounce “historian.” In general, words in which the “h” has been dropped have been shifting toward having it pronounced strongly, but only you know how you pronounce this one. If you drop the “h” entirely when saying “historian,” then precede it with “an.” If you pronounce it with a strongly stressed “h,” then use “a.” If you pronounce it with a very faint “h,” then do whatever seems more natural.

It’s worth remembering that the reason why “an” is used before vowels is because it’s hard to go straight from “a” to another vowel sound without having them run into one another. Native speakers of English almost never use the wrong one, at least in speech. Say it out loud before you write it, and trust your instincts.


rjn adds:    I think language usage usually goes with what is easier to say.

Another interesting phenomenon is hypercorrectness.  Few people know how to use I  and me,who and whom in the traditional way.
Whom sounds impressive to some people so they  use it when they should use who.  Actually I think whom has disappeared from spoken language, just as well.
To some it sounds nice to use I so they do something like this:
A package came for my husband and I.
What would you say if you left out husband?  A package came for ?



Wallenda Will Walk Over Chicago

Wallenda sets high-wire path
Tightrope to go high above river, between towers
By Ted Gregory Tribune reporter   Chicago Tribune 9.17.14

   Nik Wallenda, seventh-generation member of the famed “Flying Wallendas” acrobatic performance family, is planning a tightrope walk more than 50 stories above and across the Chicago River  without a net or harness.  The event at 6 p.m. Nov. 2, a Sunday, would consist of two walks — one that would reach longer than two city blocks and rise to an incline of 15 degrees from Marina City’s west tower to the Leo Burnett Building, and the second spanning Marina City’s west and east towers.

   It also would resemble closely the tightrope walk in which his great-grandfather, Karl Wallenda, patriarch of the clan, fell to his death. The elder Wallenda was 73 years old when he fell while attempting to walk a cable between two hotels in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on March 22, 1978.

   “This is going to be the most incredible tightrope walk of my career,” Wallenda said Tuesday afternoon in a prepared statement released by the Discovery Channel, which will televise the event live. “I can’t think of a better city to do it.”

 Wallenda, who made his first professional tightrope walk at age 13, said he hopes the walk “will inspire others to go after their dreams,” the release said.  He is dedicating this walk, which will be along a wire that measures five-eighths of an inch wide, to his family, especially his great-grandfather.

  “I’m always looking for the next major hurdle and doing something that the world has never seen,” Wallenda said, adding that his wife, three children and his father will attend the event. “I want my family to be there to see history in the making. And feel comforted knowing that they’ll be praying along with me.”

BRIAN CASSELLA/TRIBUNE  Nik Wallenda, who visited Chicago in April, has set his tightrope walk for Nov. 2, a Sunday night, at 6:30.

The average low temperature on Nov. 2 hovers around 41 degrees and wind speeds have averaged about 10.4 mph on that date. But that stretch of the river, almost cavernous from skyscrapers that line each side, is notorious as a wind tunnel in fall, winter and spring.

The Discovery channel said “dozens” of cameras across the city and on helicopters will record Wallenda’s “nailbiting, two part walk … in one of the windiest sections of Chicago.”

 Wallenda said he has fond memories of performing in Chicago with his family. Also, he has said the “Windy City” nickname offers an intriguing element for marketing the event.

  “Besides, it’s the ‘Windy City’ and there’s nothing like doing this during winter in Chicago,” Wallenda said, although winter officially starts in December. “That’s a challenge for me and I love to push myself to do things that most people think are impossible.”

  In making the decision, Wallenda and his team, including his retired acrobat father, used maps, photographs and bird’s-eye views from Google Earth. They concentrated on minimizing traffic and business disruptions while trying to allow space for live audiences.

  In a prepared statement when plans were taking shape months ago, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel was enthusiastic about the wire walk, noting that Chicago was home to the first skyscraper.

  The city “has played host to countless world events,” Emanuel said, “and this will be one for the history books. We are thrilled Nik Wallenda has chosen our great city with its iconic skyline as the site of his next walk.”

 A Wallenda tightrope walk draws massive TV viewing numbers. His last walk, a quarter-mile across an Arizona gorge over the Little Colorado River in June, brought an estimated 13 million viewers to Discovery.

 Wallenda has acquired stage experience in Chicago in recent years. From 2005 to 2010 he joined his sister, Lijana, a costume designer at Lookingglass Theatre, three times for “Hephaestus: A Greek Mythology Circus Tale.” Wallenda was a safety adviser, helping coordinate a seven-person pyramid on a high wire, and performed in the show. 



Biggest Dino Ever

Dinosaur cruised waters — and had 10 feet on Sue

By Steve Johnson Tribune reporter  Chicago Tribune  9.12.14

Spinosaurus bones

  If you think it sounds incongruous to describe the largest predatory dinosaur yet known as “half duck, half crocodile,” well, correct.
   But that’s the phrase University of Chicago paleontologist Paul Sereno used for Spinosaurus, the Cretaceous period carnivore revealed to be a lot different than people thought in new fossil findings from the Sahara led by Sereno’s Chicago colleague Nizar Ibrahim.    At 50 feet long, the animal was bigger than what was long believed to be the upper size limit for predators, the roughly 40 feet reached by Tyrannosaurus rex and others, according to a paper published Thursday in the journal Science.  
  “It’s a depressing day for Sue,” said Sereno, referring to the iconic T. rex on display at Chicago’s Field Museum.    Spinosaurus may have been able to break the length barrier, the scientists said, because it was also the first nonavian dinosaur to adapt primarily to water: preying on fish with its long, slender jaws, having denser bones for stability in water, moving better in the waterways of prehistoric northern Africa than on land because of its short, small hind limbs.    “We were wrong!” Thomas R. Holtz, a senior lecturer in vertebrate paleontology at the University of Maryland, said via email. “We now see that Spinosaurus wasn’t merely the largest known spinosaur: We find that it had evolved into a new niche. It had gone from wading, heron-like ancestors to fully aquatic, crocodile-like habits.    “And the discovery by Ibrahim, Sereno, and their colleagues also shows the importance of going out and finding new discoveries. If it weren’t for their find, we might still be thinking thatSpinosaurus was the land-walking giant shown in movies like ‘Jurassic Park III,’ rather than the very weird creature it actually was.”
  The Science paper about Spinosaurus, first discovered more than a century ago and named for the great sail on its back, is called “Semiaquatic Adaptations in a Giant Predatory Dinosaur,” written by Ibrahim, as lead author, Sereno, and colleagues from Europe and Africa.    Their one-sentence summary: “New fossils of the dinosaur Spinosaurus aegyptiacus exhibit a suite of unique adaptations, providing multiple lines of anatomical evidence for a semi-aquatic lifestyle.”    “It’s exciting, mainly because over the last 150 to 200 years people have at various times placed dinosaurs in the water and then pulled them out,” said Peter Makovicky, curator of dinosaurs at the Field, with the most recent thinking being that they were terrestrial. “This is changing the bigger picture of understanding what environments dinosaurs were adapted for.”    As for the assertion about Sue, at his institution, having the blues over losing her primacy, “I’m not gonna put her on Prozac just yet,” Makovicky said.
Noting that the paper describes the animal’s length but not its mass, he said, “Until we see more details on that, we’ll keep Sue happy.”    Ibrahim weighed in, emailing to say, “Weight estimates are very tricky. Spino is longer, but more elongate and slender overall, so weight probably quite similar” to T. rex.    The discovery of new Spinosaurus bones in Morocco, in a hillside near the Algerian border dating to 95 million years ago, and the subsequent reinterpretation of the species are getting the full, contemporary red-carpet treatment.    In addition to the peer-reviewed article, there was an embargoed news conference Wednesday from the Washington, D.C., headquarters of the National Geographic Society, which funded much of the research. In addition to their academic jobs, Sereno and Ibrahim bear the National Geographic titles of explorer and emerging explorer, respectively.   
A new museum exhibit depicting “Spinosaurus: Lost Giant of the Cretaceous,” featuring a life-size replica skeleton, will open Friday at the National Geographic Museum in Washington. A National Geographic magazine cover story is coming; it was published online Thursday. And there’ll be a NOVA special on PBS, “Bigger Than T. rex,” airing Nov. 5.    “It’s a very peculiar, cool-looking dinosaur, the kind of thing that’s going to deservedly attract a lot of attention,” Makovicky said. Among paleontologists, “It’s sort of been one of these enduring mysteries.”    Said Ibrahim, “The only reliable way to understand the lifestyle is to look at the bones. People have not really speculated that much about the limbs of Spinosaurus because we haven’t had many leg bones.”
   The researchers pieced together, digitally, a Spinosaurus skeleton from multiple fragmentary finds of the rare animal, the most recent being the more complete “subadult” by Ibrahim, beginning in 2008.    Their detective work also included meetings with mysterious men selling fossils in cardboard boxes in a Moroccan cafe and bones destroyed in Germany in a World War II Allied bombing raid and brought back to life from the journals of the German scientist Ernst Freiherr Stromer von Reichenbach. Stromer discovered the animal, published papers about it and drew what he found very well.    Most of the newly discovered bones that helped guide the conclusions are at    U. of C. now, being copied so the originals can be repatriated to Morocco, Sereno said.    “My nickname for this animal is ‘Superjaws,’ ” he said. “It really is. It’s all jaws. The skull, it’s gone crocodilian.” In its locomotion, meanwhile, “you’re looking sort of at a model of a duck, something that’s paddling with its hind legs,” the renowned paleontologist added.   
 As much as a tale of digital reconstruction and animal reassessment, the new facts about Spinosaurus are a human story — Stromer’s, to be sure, but also Ibrahim’s. Now a vertebratepaleontologist at the    U. of C., the Moroccan-German scientist was a doctoral student at University College Dublin when he began the quest.    “The Spinosaurus has been a little bit of an obsession for me for a long time,” he said. “It still seems really surreal. I never thought I would witness the day when Spinosaurus rises again.”     Twitter @StevenKJohnson

JIM BOURG/REUTERS A mounted skeletal cast of a 50-foot Spinosaurus is shown at a news conference in Washington, D.C.

CRISTIANO DAL SASSO Paleontologists Nizar Ibrahim and David Martill examine a spine fragment of a Spinosaurus found in southeast Morocco.