November 28th, 2005

Chris Keeley

The captive dolphins "produced 317 distinct forms of play behavior during the five years that they w

Dolphins play at least 317 different games

http://www.world-science.net/exclusives/051107_dolphinfrm.htm

Two researchers in Mississippi observed dolphins at play and cataloged 317 different game-like behaviors:
The captive dolphins "produced 317 distinct forms of play behavior during the five years that they were observed," they wrote.

One calf became adept at "blowing bubbles while swimming upside-down near the bottom of the pool and then chasing and biting each bubble before it reached the surface," the researchers continued. "She then began to release bubbles while swimming closer and closer to the surface, eventually being so close that she could not catch a single bubble."

 

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The dolphin may have been keeping her play interesting by blowing more bubbles than she could easily catch and bite, the researchers wrote.

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Chris Keeley

There’s no sense that the world is caving in. We’re in the middle of a seven-year slog in Iraq, and

UP IN THE AIR
by SEYMOUR M. HERSH
Where is the Iraq war headed next?
Issue of 2005-12-05
Posted 2005-11-28

In recent weeks, there has been widespread speculation that President George W. Bush, confronted by diminishing approval ratings and dissent within his own party, will begin pulling American troops out of Iraq next year. The Administration’s best-case scenario is that the parliamentary election scheduled for December 15th will produce a coalition government that will join the Administration in calling for a withdrawal to begin in the spring. By then, the White House hopes, the new government will be capable of handling the insurgency. In a speech on November 19th, Bush repeated the latest Administration catchphrase: “As Iraqis stand up, we will stand down.” He added, “When our commanders on the ground tell me that Iraqi forces can defend their freedom, our troops will come home with the honor they have earned.” One sign of the political pressure on the Administration to prepare for a withdrawal came last week, when Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told Fox News that the current level of American troops would not have to be maintained “for very much longer,” because the Iraqis were getting better at fighting the insurgency.

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Meanwhile, as the debate over troop reductions continues, the covert war in Iraq has expanded in recent months to Syria. A composite American Special Forces team, known as an S.M.U., for “special-mission unit,” has been ordered, under stringent cover, to target suspected supporters of the Iraqi insurgency across the border. (The Pentagon had no comment.) “It’s a powder keg,” the Pentagon consultant said of the tactic. “But, if we hit an insurgent network in Iraq without hitting the guys in Syria who are part of it, the guys in Syria would get away. When you’re fighting an insurgency, you have to strike everywhere—and at once.”

Chris Keeley

To prove Richter’s obloquy with a comparison, he cites Balthus.) Richter is a master, the best alive

IN THE AIR
by PETER SCHJELDAH
New works by Gerhard Richter.
Issue of 2005-12-05
Posted 2005-11-28

The great and sly German artist Gerhard Richter has inserted a rare note of political provocation into a large show of recent mostly abstract works at the Marian Goodman Gallery. It comes in a photograph of his well-known painting of Second World War P-51 Mustang fighter planes. Richter made the painting from an old photograph in 1964, during the early, Pop-art-influenced phase of his multifarious career. In greenish grisaille with a zone of reddish tint, eight of the sinisterly elegant war machines, bearing British insignia, appear to execute a shallow dive above indistinct farm fields. (Actually, they are flying level; the framing point of view has a rakish tilt.) The Mustang (which, perhaps not incidentally for Richter’s present purpose, would share its name with the iconic American fun car) was a long-range craft that escorted Allied bombers over Germany. Mustangs played a murderous role in the February, 1945, firestorm attack on Dresden, strafing survivors of the initial bombing who were massed on the city’s riverbanks. From some thirty miles away, Richter, as a boy of thirteen, witnessed the glow in the night sky of Dresden’s immolation.

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Richter grew up and came of age in modern regions of Hell, sustained by an identification with traditions of Western art that his mother, the daughter of a concert pianist, inculcated in him. (The vertical abstractions in the show come as close to being visual equivalents of music—with interplays of harmony and dissonance and qualities of pitch, timbre, and sonority—as paintings can.) For him, as for other young Germans of his time who rejected their fathers, the traditions were broken. American painting by such artists as Pollock and Warhol showed his generation how to begin again, though in a void of meaning. The German response to Pop art, Capitalist Realism, which Richter participated in, savored things seedy and sad in the image bank of popular culture—it was brilliant but sepulchral, about loss. Richter’s subsequent recastings of many forms and styles, abstract and representational, are like visits to a hospice of dying principles. You don’t have to agree with his pessimism. (To be American, even in disastrous times, is to be hardwired against such an attitude, I think.) But Richter’s authenticity is indubitable. It throws weight behind the finely calibrated hint of protest, or warning, delivered by the photograph of “Mustangs.” People and things—traditions, nations—really do die in the course of history, and not always unavoidably.