Friday, January 13, 2017

1970 "Stop Pollution" first-day cover, octopuses and #FridayReads

This first day cover from October 28, 1970, features a six-cent SAVE OUR SOIL stamp, which was part of an anti-pollution set of four designed by Arnold Copeland and Walter Richards. The other three designs featured the phrases SAVE OUR CITIES, SAVE OUR WATER and SAVE OUR AIR. Excellent ideas.

The cachet side of the envelope has a black, green and gray illustration in which an octopus sits atop the continental United States. The headline states "STOP POLLUTION" and the text underneath states "STAND AND FIGHT THE CREEPING DECAY OF OUR LAND, AIR AND WATERS."

If I'm interpreting the illustration correctly, the octopus represents POLLUTION, with its tentacles getting a tight hold on the USA. That's entirely unfair. Octopuses aren't villains.1 We need to STOP POLLUTION so that we can save ourselves, our soil, our oceans and our octopuses. We're on the same team. If anything, we're THEIR villain, polluting the oceans they're swimming through. (End rant.)

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Speaking of octopuses, Joan sent me a link this morning to an opinion piece in The Washington Post titled "Just how smart is an octopus?" In the article, author Callum Roberts discusses Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness, a new book by Peter Godfrey-Smith. Regarding the book, Roberts cautions: "Don’t read this book ... if you want to continue eating calamari with an untroubled conscience, for living cephalopods are smart, beautiful and possessed with extraordinary personalities."

Other Minds was also reviewed recently by Carl Safina for The New York Times. Safina writes:
"Octopuses have personality (cephonality?), some shy, some confident or 'particularly feisty.' Some — not all — play, blowing and batting bottles around. They recognize human faces; one study confirmed that giant Pacific octopuses could even distinguish people wearing identical uniforms. Octopuses become fond of certain people, yet at others they squirt disdainful jets of water. One cuttlefish squirted all new visitors, but not familiar faces. ... So, like humans, cephalopods can categorize. Some squirt their lights out at night, short-circuiting them. They 'have their own ideas.'"

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I had already added Other Minds to my "to read" list on Goodreads. And so, transitioning from cachets to octopuses to books, here, for #FridayReads, are the books I'm currently reading:

  • Building Big, by David Macaulay
  • City, by Clifford D. Simak
  • Namesake, Volume 1, by Isabelle Melançon and Megan Lavey-Heaton
  • Remaking the World: Adventures in Engineering, by Henry Petroski

Other Minds joins more than 280 other books on my current "to read" list. I might have to admit that I have a problem. But when you're talking too many books, that's a great problem to have, right?

Finally, my friend Susan announced on Facebook today that she's getting ready to dive into 1Q84, a 900-plus-page behemoth by Haruki Murakami. I've had my eye on that hefty volume for a while, too, but (1) I can only do one huge book at a time, and I'm slowly working my way through and savoring The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York, by Robert A. Caro; and (2) Murakami's surreal, dense fiction intimidates me a bit, so I'm working my way up to 1Q84 by tackling some of his shorter novels first. Next on my list is South of the Border, West of the Sun.

What are you reading?

1. Fun with language: Octopuses is the proper plural of octopus. According to Wikipedia: "The scientific Latin term octopus was derived from Ancient Greek ὀκτώπους. ... The alternative plural "octopi" – which misguidedly assumes it is a Latin "-us"-word – is considered grammatically incorrect."

1 comment:

  1. Well, I learned something new today about the plural of octopus, and I love these stamps, even if they do villainize the poor octopus.