Here is the July edition of Findings from Harper’s Magazine.


 By Rafil Kroll-Zaidi

Researchers identified genes responsible for the smallness of pygmies, congenital spleenlessness, the blond hair of Melanesians, a 2.6-point increase in IQ (if both parents are carriers), and the similarities between the luminescent bellies of smalleye pygmy sharks and those of velvet-belly lantern sharks. A chemist unveiled shark-­repellent fish hooks whose rare-earth coatings irritate the ampullae of Lorenzini. An excited beauty baryon was observed for the first time, and Oklahoma scientists were uncertain whether bacon with a green sheen is unhealthful. Vanilla yogurt gives mice glossier coats and larger testicles. Zoologists mapped the syntax of the rock hyrax. The orangutan contains multiples of Alu. Scientists who found silicone breast-implant failure rates to be as high as sixteen times the previously suspected levels proposed widespread explanting. Entomologists comparing Brazilian and Thai zombie-ant graveyards determined that an unknown fungus was thwarting the spread of the ant-zombifying fungus. A Government Accountability Office study deemed ineffective a Pentagon study on the efficacy of Pentagon studies.

Anxiety was found to speed the progression of cancer in hairless mice, to improve humans’ sense of smell, and to be alleviated by alcohol in zebrafish who have been living alone. Runner’s high was documented in dogs, as was a reduction in distrust toward atheists among pious Canadians who are reminded of the Vancouver police. Injury to the right parietal lobe was correlated with a feeling of closeness to God. Brain freeze was traced to the anterior cerebral artery. Psychologists proposed that people who see others’ auras may be confused synaesthetes. Similes activate the medial frontal gyrus whereas metaphors predominantly activate the right inferior frontal gyrus in the brains of Japanese. Temporal poles and the anterior rostral prefrontal cortex are smaller in psychopaths. German doctors published a study in PAIN that found needle pricks hurt less when the patient looks the other way. Scientists identified the dopamine receptors responsible for forgetting.
American children were eating more batteries. A study found the mouth to be the bodily region most often injured by toddlers who fall while using sippy cups; less than 1 percent of 45,398 bottle-, pacifier-, and sippy-cup-related ­emergency-room admissions over the past two decades involved injuries to the groin. A Florida scientist definitively identified the G-spot of an eighty-three-year-old corpse. Frida Kahlo’s infertility was diagnosed, and scientists explained why breast milk does not turn breasts to bone. A mother hen’s screeching was found to wake chicks unhatched in their eggs. As part of a study of infants’ emergent sleep trajectories (SIESTA), it was discovered that depressed mothers are more likely to pointlessly wake their babies in the night. In Sri Lanka a hen gave birth to a live eggless chick and then died. White babies begin around the age of nine months to have trouble telling black people apart. Robin fathers take better care of chicks that come from bluer eggs. Crows recognize the voices of individual birds of other species. Ravens remember past relationships. Two drunk Welshmen stole a fairy penguin, Turkish authorities exonerated a bee-eater suspected of spying for Israel, Peru experienced a rash of unexplained deaths among pelicans and boobies, and the great tits of Wytham Woods were forming mobs to help defend one another. “It could be that they join because their own nest might also be at risk,” said the study’s lead author. “Or they may be playing tit-for-tat.”

Fire Season

It’s been all over the news, so I’m sure you know we have a bunch of wild fires all over the state of Colorado. The latest and most destructive is the Waldo Canyon Fire down near Colorado Springs. That’s about 50 miles away from us, and I took this picture of the smoke plume from our deck. You can see Pike’s Peak on the other side of the smoke.

And as ever, Chas is doing his part to help with the fire-fighting effort.

Jane Huntington Weiner 1917- 2012

Jane Huntington Weiner, Betsy’s oldest sister and surviving sibling, died, lucid to the end, in Massachusetts yesterday. She was born in 1917 in Anwei, China, raised (by strangest coincidence) with Libby’s mother Patty Lucas Adam, eventually came to the states, attended Radcliffe, and survived an adventurous youth to become a serene mother and gardener and lifelong vegetarian who somehow managed to enjoy her carnivorous relatives without criticism, and even compliment one of our hounds. She leaves many Weiner descendants and Huntington relatives. I hope to post more pix and stories as they come in; I need to find the one of Jane and Patty sharing a baby carriage in Anwei. She has been to the Spur (in 1986)– it is in Querencia- the- book.

The Huntington sisters, late 70’s, when I first knew them:

Silk Road Trilogy Project

An innovative approach to publishing and natural for Q fans, on so many levels: The Silk Road Trilogy translation project on Kickstarter!

Central Asia, the Silk Road, falcons and horses, China, literature, cyber- publishing; what’s not to love? Please consider pledging a bit to make this happen- time is short! Russian Life’s blog will report on progress. Casa Q pitched in a hundred and may try for more…

Weekend Links

… good, bad, & strange. Bear with my light blogging for a couple more weeks please! First, good:

Tazi pix! Right from the source, Almaty & environs– the bearded ethnic Russian guy is Konstantin Plakhov, who bred our Ataika, seen here as a pup at Kostya’s there and as a matron, here, below.

Libby with Kostya and Zhendet the tobet, in 2004:

Very Bad: you are not paranoid when they are after you. I particularly like this quote: ““They can get rid of hounding and deal with a segment of their community that is not well respected. Or they can potentially lose all bear and bobcat hunting.” Us. The oldest Paleolithic partnership. “First they came..” Fill in your favorite. Are you listening David Peterson? Think they’ll keep bowhunting?

Weird but probably true paleo- science. A bad time for megafauna! HT Walter H.

In That New York

Phillip here, after a long silence caused by being in one place, I’m about to head out again, and hope to pester you more in the months to come. Thought I’d send a little goodbye/hello before I left.

My grandfather fought in Germany. Not as a boxer, but as a soldier. After the war, he decided not to return home, and instead traveled central and eastern Europe, founding rodeos and learning languages and basically being the kind of 20-year-old man we would all like to think we could be or could have been, fearless, curious, and the master of his own life.

When he talks about it, and he rarely talks about it, he talks about the trip to Europe. He traveled by boat, and he talks about being able to see the curve of the Earth. Imagine you are 18 and a Montana cowboy, and are being sailed away to kill and die in places you’ve barely heard of, and on the boat you realize, you can see for yourself, that the world is really actually round. This is what he talks about when he talks about war.

When I went to Europe I was much older than he’d been, and I flew, and I’d seen photographs of the spinning world taken from space. I saw Paris in the the nighttime, the City of Lights alight, and I landed in Athens.

I didn’t found any rodeos while I was in Europe. I was not the kind of man that anyone would ever want to be. I taught during the daytime and I couldn’t sleep at night. The 3:00 AM sunrise of Poland, the screaming muezzin in Istanbul, the crashing waves, the crashing waves. Instead of sleeping, instead of learning languages, instead of murdering scourges of Nazis, what I did was walk and walk.

In Europe I lost 60 pounds, and in part it was that I could not eat the food, and in part it was that I had sex almost every day for long stretches of time, but mostly it was that I walked, every night, and often for hours on end.

If I cannot be a good man, like my grandfather is and was, if I am not curious, if I am not the master of my life and I am not a good man, it can at least never be said that I was not fearless. Never brave, but always fearless.

I walked, one night, along the traintracks of the Orient Express, where it passed out through Bakirkoy where I lived back toward the heart of the city, under bridges under which sat the men who sell hashish there, to the station where very young boys would carry the massive sacks of discarded flesh from butcher shops to leave on the ground there for no reason I could determine, though on my walks I often walked alongside the very young girls and boys who pulled massive canvas bags in wheeled frames along the streets, collecting the discarded wealth of the city.

In New York trash piles up on the city streets and disappears somehow, during the night.

In Poland I taught myself graffiti one night, walking along the highway that runs out to Warsaw and which was being expanded then for the Euro Cup of 2012. The sound-deflection walls were covered with every possible form and quality of graffiti, slanderous and artistic and obviously bought, the street-level version of the purple-green-red madness that adorned all the rectilinear Soviet buildings of the city. I remembered the fall of the Berlin wall, and how it had to be explained to me then, because I was a child, that the side covered with the scrawls and etchings of eighteen hundred thousand hands was the side of freedom, and the immaculate concrete on the other side was the immaculate concrete of the interior of prison walls.

In New York someone is writing my name all over the place, and I don’t know why. Me and Lou Reed and Jim Joe.

In Greece I had a roommate, and I would sleep with headphones in because I can’t sleep in silence, and I remember the shrine over his bed and cigarettes smoked to the hilt with the ashes intact and lingering. I remember sneaking out, then, tiptoeing past him if he wasn’t sleeping over with the woman who’d become his wife, the crashing waves.

In Athens you turn a corner and are confronted suddenly with the history of western culture, and it looms over you and you think of Michelangelo as an incredibly tall man, whether he was or not, but in Vrahati, where I lived before I was itenerant, there are only very deep gutters and flowers growing through the fences of small multi-story houses, a cemetary covered in flowers, and the stones that line the beach, absorb the crashing waves.

I was fearless then and some nights I’d strip and swim out into the sea until I couldn’t swim anymore, and then try to swim back to the shore.

I can’t ask my grandpa if he thinks of Germany as the Kingdom of Death, because, really, what the hell kind of question is that. And I can’t ask anyone if they think Alfred Jarry predicted my death, because Bolaño is dead too, he’s always been dead. And if I never go to Bolivia, will I never die?

Instead I go out nights and I walk. From Paul’s house in Bedford-Stuyvesant you can see the Empire State building and try to guess what blue and white represents, and from the Williamsburg Bridge you can see the new World Trade Center with its crown of cranes, alight in the night.

Because my grandpa’s war story is about standing on a ship in the middle of the ocean, watching the world become round, and when he talks about the war he talks about Polish peasants binding scraps of rubber to the wheels of bikes to ride from one town to the next. Because there isn’t going to be the explosion you want. I can remember walking back and forth across the Galata Bridge, waiting for an explosion, walking back and forth across the Galata Bridge hoping to arrive somewhere else on the other side, walking back and forth, waiting for an explosion, waiting for a sudden change, back and forth waiting for the movie magic to descend and make this a new place and me a new person, walking back and forth on the Galata Bridge and hoping to be unloved, and to be elsewhere, waiting for an explosion of change, for a violent and explosive revolution. Instead there is a man fishing there, then, throughout the night, with a bucket of old fish still alive and thrashing in a crowded bucket, with a very long fishing line descending into the Golden Horn, a man as old as my grandpa who has never sailed to America. And he’s there every night. Because blind and unwavering undiscipline at all times constitutes the real strength of all free men. At all times. That’s the kicker.

And so we’re leaving. Something there is in us that’s defined by motion still lives on, demands walking all night, demands a new place, a new country, something new. An entirely new nighttime sky, the stars that live below the Earth.

So talk to you soon, kids, next time from the home of our death, that Bolivia.

A Few Links From Me, Too

Walter Hingley sent this link to John Hawks writing on the kurgans, the icy tombs of the Altai. I hope Reid has time to say more, as he can put them in context more than I can. Actually I have seen quite a few, in the Altai region of Bayan Olgii in far western Mongolia.

More Central Asia: dispatch from Almaty and Bishkek in the current Paris Review. There is apparently a Walton Ford portfolio too, but I haven’t seen it.

Ray Bradbury dies in LA at 91 after a long productive life. If memory serves he was the… object, I guess, of an amusing song here. More at the Mallard of Discontent. Did you know T. H. White was a fan of his in the fifties?

Our friend Neutrino Cannon doesn’t really like revolvers, but this ode to the snub- nosed .38 sent by Chas makes me wish I still had one– or, maybe, the prettier if more expensive J Frame Smith Model 60.

A YouTube of wolf coursing in Czarist Russia! Thanks to Zac Eads.

PETA would not approve of the above, but I wonder if some of their sentimentalist followers will approve of their move into porn? I LOVE the headline.