Two Hares –and A Fox

two hares (and fox)
Japanese, c. 1870

Published in: on April 16, 2015 at 12:24 am  Comments (2)  
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Kindness to Creatures

G Walter HarrisGeorge Walter Harris (1835–1912)

Several years ago, culinary ethnographer Eve Jochnowitz came across a Yiddish vegetarian cookbook from 1938. The book was written by Fania Lewando, a restaurant owner in what was then Poland (it’s now in Lithuania).

“She says it has long been established by the leading medical authorities that the vegetarian diet is the most healthful for the human organism,” Jochnowitz translates. “And then, in the second sentence, she says … our Jewish tradition upholds the principle of tza’ar baalei chaim — kindness to God’s creatures.”
There’s also an exploration of all sorts of dishes and ingredients, like Jerusalem artichokes and chanterelle mushrooms, or red wine soup and radish jam.
Jochnowitz argues about Lewando’s recipes: They’re more than just a historical document of that era. First of all, they’re delicious. But more than that, they capture a Jewish practice that continues to this day — of looking to the spirit of the times, or your own internal compass, and making that a part of tradition. And that can happen in a vegetarian restaurant in Poland in the 1930s or in an American kitchen this Passover.

Jochnowitz says the underlying striving for an ethical, healthy future was very much part of the zeitgeist in the years just before World War II.
“I think there’s very much a feeling that one is really just on the brink, the threshold of a great new world,”
Lewando didn’t survive the war, and neither did those hopes for the future.

Man’s Footsteps

tate polar bear Beyond Man’s Footsteps
Briton Riviere 
(1840 – 1920)

In a report published in the journal Frontiers in Ecology on Wednesday, scientists from the US Geological Survey (USGS) said it was doubtful polar bears could adapt to land-based foods, according to new research.

The study also looks at the devastating effect the bears’ onshore migration could have on other species.

Polar bears face starvation as their frozen habitat shrinks.

The Sciences and The Humanities

Maria-Sophie Germain (1 April 1776 – 27 June 1831) was a French mathematician, physicist, and philosopher.
As a child, she pored over every book on mathematics in her father’s library, and taught herself Latin and Greek so that she could read works like those of Sir Isaac Newton.
In 1794, when she was 18, the Ecole Polytechnique opened. As a woman, Germain was barred from attending, but the new system of education made the lecture notes available to all who asked.
When Adrien-Marie Legendre published Essai sur la theorie des nombres, she opened correspondence with him on number theory, and later elasticity—She won the grand prize from the Paris Academy of Sciences for her essay on the subject.
Her work on Fermat’s Last Theorem provided a foundation for mathematicians exploring the subject over the next 200 years.
Her work was fundamental in the development of a general theory of elasticity, but when the Eiffel tower was built and the architects inscribed the names of 72 great French scientists, Germain’s name was not among them, despite the relevance of her work to the tower’s construction.

Two of her philosophical works, Pensees diverses, and Consideration generale les sur l’etat des science et des lettres, aux differentes d’epoques de leur culture, were published posthumously. Pensees is a history of science and mathematics, with her commentary. In Considerations, the work admired by Auguste Comte, Germain argues that there are no differences between the sciences and the humanities.


Different Kinds of Air

A man, like  mouse, should have more than one avenue of escapeA man, like a mouse, should have more than one avenue of escape
Joris Hoefnagel (1542 – 1604)

                    Observations on Different Kinds of Air
. . . . I flatter myself that I have accidentally hit upon a method of restoring air which has been injured by the burning of candles, and that I have discovered at least one of the restoratives which nature employs for this purpose. It is vegetation. In what manner this process in nature operates, to produce so remarkable an effect, I do not pretend to have discovered; but a number of facts declare in favour of this hypothesis…
One might have imagined that, since common air is necessary to vegetable, as well as to animal life, both plants and animal had affected it in the same manner, and I own that I had that expectation, when I first put a sprig of mint into a glass-jar, standing inverted in a vessel of water; but when it had continued growing there for some months, I found that the air would neither extinguish a candle, nor was it at all inconvenient to a mouse, which I put into it.
…Accordingly, on the 17th of August 1771, I put a sprig of mint into a quantity of air, in which a wax candle had burned out, and found that, on the 27th of the same month, another candle burned perfectly well in it. This experiment I repeated, without least variation in the event, not less than eight or ten times in the remainder of the summer.
Joseph Priestley (24 March 1733 – 6 February 1804)

In 1771, about the time of the first stirrings of the industrial revolution and its appetite for fossil fuel, an English minister grasped key processes of the natural carbon cycle. In a series of ingenious experiments, Joseph Priestley found that flames and animals’ breath “injure” the air in a sealed jar, making it unwholesome to breathe. But a green sprig of mint, he found, could restore its goodness. Priestley could not name the gases responsible, but we know now that the fire and respiration used up oxygen and gave off carbon dioxide. The mint reversed both processes. Photosynthesis took up the carbon dioxide, converted it into plant tissue, and gave off oxygen as a by-product.

The world is just a bigger jar. Tens of billions of tons of carbon a year pass between land and the atmosphere: given off by living things as they breathe and decay and taken up by green plants, which produce oxygen. A similar traffic in carbon, between marine plants and animals, takes place within the waters of the ocean. And nearly a hundred billion tons of carbon diffuse back and forth between ocean and atmosphere.

In other words:
Alone in a sealed jar, a mouse would die from exhaled CO2. But as Priestley observed in 1771, adding a plant allows the mouse to thrive. In this proof of photosynthesis, the mint absorbed CO2, retained carbon for growth, and released oxygen


And where a tear has dropped, a wind-flower blows

wflwrWood Anemone
John Ruskin (February 1819 – January 1900)

The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha

Don Quixote Bucks CountyAdrien Demont  (1851-1928)


Study Of A Rock Dove

Rock Dove Udine

Giovanni Nanni (1487–1564)


H S child
Helene Schjerfbeck (July 10, 1862 – January 23, 1946)

Seamless, A Garland

carracciAnnibale Carracci (1560 – 1609)



Chlorophyll C55H72N4O5Mg
differs from human blood
only by substitution of one
atom of magnesium
in philodendron
for the single atom of iron
in Keats.

Stephen Sandy




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