3.1001 best wishes (58)

Willard McCarty (MCCARTY@vm.epas.utoronto.ca)
Fri, 2 Feb 90 21:05:50 EST

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 3, No. 1001. Friday, 2 Feb 1990.

Date: 2 February 1990
From: Willard McCarty <MCCARTY@vm.epas.utoronto.ca>
Subject: intoxication

To commemorate Humanist's 1001st message in its 3rd year of life, I
thought I would share with you, on this gloomy Friday evening, a
humorous piece from my favourite periodical, the Times Literary
Supplement. The review in question is "A Universal Urge" by Michael
Gossop, who is Head of Research, Drug Dependence Unit, Maudsley
Hospital, London, and author of *Living with Drugs* (1987). Dr. Gossop
essays to review Solomon H. Snyder's *Brainstorming: The Science and
Politics of Opiate Research* and Ronald K. Siegel's *Intoxication: Life
in Persuit of Artificial Paradise*. In the course of discussing the
latter book, Dr. Gossop has the following to say:

`Insects and birds, rats and mice, cats and dogs, apes and elephants have
all had their moments of intoxication. Here you will find robins stoned
on Pyracantha berries, reindeer on hallucinogenic mushrooms, elephants
on opium, even earthworms on LSD. "Earthworms become disorganized after
receiving LSD and aimlessly crawl and burrow through the topsoil." How
can he tell? To me earthworms generally look disorganized and aimless,
but then this is not my field. One of the stars of Siegel's show is
Marty Mouse, who lived in the police department vault in San Jose.
Confiscated bags of marijuana had been broken into and the contents were
scattered or missing. The suspect was captured by a marijuana and butter
trap and taken to Siegel's laboratory for further investigation,
prompting student protest on the UCLA campus complete with "Free Marty"
T-shirts and bumper-stickers. One of Siegel's oddest stories is that of
the insects which in 1545 attacked and destroyed the wine grapes and
vineyards of St. Julien. A formal complaint was made against the insects
and they were duly brought to trial. The prosecution argued that lower
animals should be subject to the laws of man, and the defense argued
that the insects were merely exercising their biblical right to be
fruitful and multiply. The archives show that the judge deliberated for
a long time but the final decision is unknown -- the last page of the
surviving records was destroyed by weevils.'

In case someone should think that this message has nothing whatever to
do with humanities computing, let me add something from Clifford
Geertz's essay, "Religion as a Cultural System":

`The perception of the structural congruence between one set of
processes, activities, relations, entities, etc., and another set for
which it acts as a program, so that the program can be taken as a
representation, or conception -- a symbol -- of the programmed, is the
essence of human thought.'

Yours, Willard McCarty