Toads in the Gorge
|December 8, 2010|
Kim Howell is a white-haired giant who wears Kissinger glasses that magnify his eyes. He was born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, and paid for a degree in vertebrate zoology at Cornell University by working at the school’s Library of Natural Sound. Howell preserved archival recordings of birdcalls collected in Africa in the nineteen forties and after four years he was convinced he should go to Africa. He taught science at an elementary school in the Zambian bush before going north to Tanzania, where he taught at a school for apartheid refugees. That was in 1970. Howell has lived in Tanzania ever since, raising a family and teaching zoology at the University of Dar es Salaam.
During his career, Howell has discovered tapeworms, spiders, and other species previously unknown to science. Former students and colleagues have named a bird, a shrew and a lizard after him. Discovering a new species can define a zoologist’s career and Howell’s big find came in 1996 when he reached into some vegetation at the base of a waterfall and pulled out a little toad, believed to inhabit the smallest native habitat of any vertebrate on Earth. Following his discovery, the Kihansi spray toad became the focus of one of the most controversial conservation efforts in recent decades, a crucible for the clash between biodiversity conservation and Tanzania’s need for economic development.
“I’ve often said I wish I had never discovered the toad,” reflected Howell.
Merleau-Ponty’s Child Psychology
As much as death signals the end of the self, birth is just as mysterious. Both extend out to infinity and signal the brevity and contingency of our lives. As mysterious are those first few years of life that one does not have access to as an adult, I know I existed before my earliest memories. I know I interacted with others, I learned to walk and talk. I was willful from my parent’s tales.
William Pope.L: Reader Friendly
William Pope.L is famous for (among other things) carrying a business card that identifies him as “The Friendliest Black Artist in America.” It’s a clever gag because it makes itself true, in a way, every time it draws people closer. The card must be especially useful when Pope.L does business with people who dread Black men or Black artists.
10 Things the NSA Has Seen Me Do
One winter in my early twenties myself and some good friends — a merging of art, music and literary ladies of New York, full-grown girls aspiring to be women — got together, had a lovely dinner, some wine and delightful chat. Then we decided to spend an hour practicing “Teach Me How To Dougie”. NSA — can you teach me how to Dougie? You know why? “Because all my bitches love me.”
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