Moby Dick and Save the Whales!

Having been a long time fan of Melville via the novellas Bartleby the Scrivener (online here) and Billy Budd (online here), I finally read Moby Dick and now I know why the book is so famous. I am not even going to try and write a review, there are many on the web, but it deservedly fits in the pantheon of great books. Aside from the character development, plot, blending of humor and seriousness, mastery of the use of language, and so forth(!), a side effect of reading the book is an understanding of the whaling industry in America in the late 1800’s from the viewpoint of a sailor.Which brings me to my next point…

There used to be a way of deriding a certain sensibility using the phrase “Save the Whales” to get everyone to laugh at the perceived quixotic nature of the pursuit. (The topic of soundbite derision will have to be another post, one my major peeves) But I came across an article in the New York Times about the current plight of the right whale off the coast of the southern US as it relates to shipping in the area. A sample from the article:

Ships are one of the two leading causes of unnatural death among right whales, and scientists have warned that the unnatural death of even one breeding female has the potential to tip the species toward extinction. From 2002 to 2006, there were 17 confirmed deaths by ship strike, at least six involving adult females.In an effort to stop the fatalities, the National Marine Fisheries Service has tried to impose speed limits on ships within 30 miles of port. But the White House has delayed approval of the rule, which is opposed by some shipping companies. The White House Office of Management and Budget is supposed to review federal agencies’ rule proposals within 90 days, with an optional 30-day extension. In the case of the right whale ship strike rule, it has been more than a year.

Click here to read the full article. The Save the Whales Again! site also has some things that are worth reading should you decide to be informed. Whale hunters are behaving in a truly inhuman and inhumane way towards these incredible creatures. And only for greed…

What the Heck?

I read Michael Pollan’s book, the ‘Omnivores Dilemma‘ last year and well, it pretty much freaked me out. This is a really great book to read as it explains a lot about the origins of the trouble with our food supply and the politics and the people involved in it. It also accurately states the problem, in my opinion. So get it…but here is a link to an article he wrote in December that I think is astonishing. Read this article now, it takes 10-15 minutes, and if you like almonds as much as I do, ponder it…NY Times article by Michael Pollan