World Of Black And White (IV)

The black asphalt walking path around the Yantis Loop is like a dark canvas waiting for the artistic touch of snowflakes.  Typically the snowfall will simply drop a white blanket that covers everything, but in some spots, where trees catch a few flakes, the path will look like a monochromatic, negative image of a drip painting by Jackson Pollock.

The effect is mesmerizing, as the mind whirs in its attempt to impose order on the chaos and seeks to find patterns and images in the randomness.  It’s like laying on your back on a sultry summer’s day, staring at clouds and seeing shapes and faces.

World Of Black And White

World Of Black And White (II)

World Of Black And White (III)

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Simply Flawless

With the death of Whitney Houston most will recall her singing of the song “I Will Always Love You” from the movie The Bodyguard. For me I will always remember her passionate singing of the Star Spangled Banner before Super Bowl Twenty Five.

Just ten days prior to the Super Bowl a coalition force made up of thirty four nations began to wage a war code named Operation Desert Storm against Iraq who had invaded their neighbor Kuwait.

The video below is truly a show of patriotism at it’s finest with Ms Houston’s stirring version of the song making her the only artist to turn the National Anthem into a hit single when it reached number 20 on the Billboard Top 100. The single was also reissued shortly after the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center when the song hit number 6 on the charts.

A Terrible Waste

The death of Whitney Houston is horrible news for her family, her friends, and her fans.  At this point, it’s not clear exactly what caused Houston’s death, although there seems to be rampant speculation about the surrounding circumstances.

What seems to be clear is that for years Houston battled substance abuse issues.  As a result, she never reached the heights that were anticipated for someone with her stunning voice, her exquisite phrasing and timing, and her transfixing stage presence.

The social costs of substance abuse are staggering.  Those costs are borne, most directly and most brutally, by the families of those who are in the grips of addiction.  Those families must deal with the lying, the heartbreak, the anger, and the pain that the addiction of a family member inevitably brings.

At times, when a well-known figure falls prey to addiction, the pool of people affected becomes broader, and society as a whole is deprived of the music, or artwork, or performances that the addict might have delivered.  The failure of gifted individuals to realize the full potential of their enormous talents is a tragic loss for the world — but we should never forget that the most profound loss will be felt by the families.

World Of Black And White (III)

Snow inevitably find a place to land, and when it does it leaves everyday objects limned in white.  Often the white highlighting reveals delicate beauty that is just waiting to be appreciated by an attentive passerby.

I like the gentle arcs the snowfall traced on these pine tree branches, leaving them looking like outstretched arms and hands waiting to catch more flakes drifting down from above.

World Of Black And White

World Of Black And White (II)

Why Did Zebras Get Their Stripes?

Why do zebras have stripes?  It’s a question many kids have asked their parents, and one that many scientists have tried to answer.  Now researchers say they’ve solved the puzzle, and it has to do with . . . flies.

Awful, blood-sucking horseflies, to be precise.  The researchers contend that the patterns of stripes reflect light in a way that makes zebras unattractive to flies.  They conclude that the coats of black and brown horses, poor devils, reflect light in a horizontal way that horseflies love, whereas the coats of white horses don’t reflect light in that way and, as a result, white horses are less troubled by painful fly bites.  When stripes were added, the researchers found, even fewer flies were attracted.  Hence, they believe that stripes evolved to keep flies away.

Color me skeptical.  Much as it sucks to be bitten by blood-sucking flies — and it does — it’s not life-threatening and wouldn’t seem to be a sufficient cause for a significant evolutionary detour.  If it were, we wouldn’t be seeing black and brown horses romping through the pastures of Ohio, and elsewhere.  As I understand evolution, the process of natural selection works only if a genetic variation makes the individual with the variation more likely to survive and reproduce.  A variation that allows you to be more successful at avoiding non-life-threatening fly bites wouldn’t seem to fall into that category.

On the other hand, it could be that lady zebras long ago decided that black-coated males who were covered with biting flies were less attractive potential mates than those cool, laid-back striped dudes over by the watering hole who weren’t frantically twitching their tails at swarms of horseflies.  Or, alternatively, the black-coated lady zebras tormented by blood-sucking flies were less likely to be in a receptive reproductive mood than their serene, striped counterparts.