ISSN 1188-603X

No. CCCXXV April 1, 2004 Victoria, B.C.
Dr. A. Ceska, P.O.Box 8546, Victoria, B.C. Canada V8W 3S2


Christian Morgenstern (1871 - 1914) is a very atypical figure in German literature. As a rule, German culture is not too fond of the nonsensical. However, Morgenstern's poetry, which was inspired by English nonsense rhymes, is immensely popular. 'The Gallows Songs' ('Galgenlieder') and 'Palmström' feature some of his masterpieces.

Later, he turned away from the nonsensical and started to con- cern himself with philosophical topics. His philosophical and mythical works were largely influenced by Nietzsche, father of nihilism, and Rudolph Steiner, father of anthroposophy.

In his Galgenlieder, Christian Morgenstern described an animal that was walking on its nose (probiscus):

Das Nasobehm

Auf seinen Nasen schreitet
Einher das Nasobehm
Von seinem Kind begleitet.
Es steht noch nicht im Brehm.

Es steht noch nicht im Meyer
Und auch im Brockhaus nicht.
Es trat aus meiner Leyer
zum erstem Mal ans Licht.

Auf seinen Nasen schreitet
(wie schon gesagt) seitdem,
von seinem Kind begleitet,
einher das Nasobehm.

English translation:

Upon his noses walking,
Enter the Nasibehm,
Accompanied by his offspring,
You will not find his name

In Field Guides, the Brittanica,
Not evenin Audubon;
Out of my lyre, he first sprang
iInto the light of Dawn.

Upon his noses striding,
As aforsung, he came
With all his young beside him,
The stately Nasobehm.

[translated by W.D. Snodgrass and Lore Segal]

This poem led to the most startling zoolgical event in the 20th century - the discovery of Rhinogradentia, an order of mammals with no fever than 15 families, 26 genera, and 138 species. Snouters, also known as Rhinogrades, were discovered in 1941 by a Swedish naturalist who became shipwrecked on the Hi-yi-yi Islands in the Pacific Ocean. But they received their first and only scientific description in a monograph, Bau und Leben der Rhinogradentia, published in 1957 by the German naturalist Harald Stuempke.

Snouters, according to Stuempke, were a class of animals that had evolved to use their noses for virtually every imaginable function. For instance, the Sniffling Snouter caught fish with the long, delicate threads that emerged from its nostrils. The perfumed Honeytail Snouter stood rigidly upright on its thick nose and caught insects with its sticky tail. The Suctorial Snout Leaper used its long, flat nose to spring itself backwards great distances.

Unfortunately, soon after Dr. Stuempke described the Snouters, the entire Hi-yi-yi island chain sank into the ocean as a result of an earthquake triggered by the testing of atomic bombs. When the islands sank, they took with them all trace of the Snouters, except for the sketches which Dr. Stuempke had commissioned an artist to make of them. A few of these sketches are shown to the left. Dr. Stuempke, who had returned to the islands to conduct further research, sank with the Snouters.

Due to the complete extinction of the Snouters, and the eradication of their only habitat, rumors have arisen to the effect that both Dr. Stuempke and the Snouters never existed. They are alleged to have been the whimsical creation of Gerolf Steiner, a zoology professor at the University of Heidelberg. Whether or not there is any substance to this rumor, interest in the Snouters continues to grow apace. The original German monograph has been translated into both French and English and has received glowing reviews. The English version of the book is titled The Snouters: Form and Life of the Rhinogrades.

References: Dr. Harald Stuempke. The Snouters: Form and Life of the Rhinogrades. Translated by Leigh Chadwick. The Natural History Press (1967).
Otopteryx volitans, Earwing or Flying Snout Leaper, was also reported from Wisconsin:

Nova Supplementa Entomologica

Dr Harald Stuempke Bau und Leben der Rhinogradentia mit ein Nachwort von Gerolf Steiner [1957] Gustav Fischer Verlag, 1967 (Hardback)

French translation:
Dr. Harald Stuempke Anatomie et Biologie des Rhinogrades un nouvelle ordre de mammiferes preface de P.-P.Grasse Traduction de R. Weil Masson & Cie, 1962 (Softback)

[Also see: Science 140: 625. 1963]


From: Charles Dickens

The Circumlocution Office was (as everybody knows without being told) the most important Department under Government. No public business of any kind could possibly be done at any time without the acquiescence of the Circumlocution Office. Its finger was in the largest public pie, and in the smallest public tart. It was equally impossible to do the plainest right and to undo the plainest wrong without the express authority of the Circumlocution Office. If another Gunpowder Plot had been discovered half an hour before the lighting of the match, nobody would have been justified in saving the parliament until there had been half a score of boards, half a bushel of minutes, several sacks of official memoranda, and a family-vault full of ungrammatical correspondence, on the part of the Circumlocution Office.

This glorious establishment had been early in the field, when the one sublime principle involving the difficult art of govern- ing a country, was first distinctly revealed to statesmen. It had been foremost to study that bright revelation and to carry its shining influence through the whole of the official proceedings. Whatever was required to be done, the Circumlocution Office was beforehand with all the public departments in the art of perceiving -- how not to do it.

Through this delicateperception, through the tact with which it invariably seized it,and through the genius with which it always acted on it, theCircumlocution Office had risen to overtop all the publicdepartments; and the public condition had risen to be -- what it was.

It is true that How not to do it was the great study and object of all public departments and professional politicians all round the Circumlocution Office. It is true that every new premier and every new government, coming in because they had upheld a certain thing as necessary to be done, were no sooner come in than they applied their utmost faculties to discovering How not to do it. It is true that from the moment when a general election was over, every returned man who had been raving on hustings because it hadn't been done, and who had been asking the friends of the honourable gentleman in the opposite interest on pain of impeachment to tell him why it hadn't been done, and who had been asserting that it must be done, and who had been pledging himself that it should be done, began to devise, How it was not to be done. It is true that the debates of both Houses of Parliament the whole session through, uniformly tended to the protracted deliberation, How not to do it.

It is true that the royal speech at the opening of such session virtually said, My lords and gentlemen, you have a considerable stroke of work to do, and you will please to retire to your respective chambers, and discuss, How not to do it. It is true that the royal speech, at the close of such session, virtually said, My lords and gentlemen, you have through several laborious months been considering with great loyalty and patriotism, How not to do it, and you have found out; and with the blessing of Providence upon the harvest (natural, not political), I now dismiss you. All this is true, but the Circumlocution Office went beyond it.

Because the Circumlocution Office went on mechanically, every day, keeping this wonderful, all-sufficient wheel of statesmanship, How not to do it, in motion. Because the Circumlocution Office was down upon any ill-advised public servant who was going to do it, or who appeared to be by any surprising accident in remote danger of doing it, with a minute, and a memorandum, and a letter of instructions that extinguished him. It was this spirit of national efficiency in the Circumlocution Office that had gradually led to its having something to do with everything. Mechanicians, natural philosophers, soldiers, sailors, petitioners, memorialists, people with grievances, people who wanted to prevent grievances, people who wanted to redress grievances, jobbing people, jobbed people, people who couldn't get rewarded for merit, and people who couldn't get punished for demerit, were all indiscriminately tucked up under the foolscap paper of the Circumlocution Office.

Numbers of people were lost in the Circumlocution Office. Unfortunates with wrongs, or with projects for the general welfare (and they had better have had wrongs at first, than have taken that bitter English recipe for certainly getting them), who in slow lapse of time and agony had passed safely through other public departments; who, according to rule, had been bullied in this, over-reached by that, and evaded by the other; got referred at last to the Circumlocution Office, and never reappeared in the light of day. Boards sat upon them, secretaries minuted upon them, commissioners gabbled about them, clerks registered, entered, checked, and ticked them off, and they melted away. In short, all the business of the country went through the Circumlocution Office, except the business that never came out of it; and its name was Legion.

Sometimes, angry spirits attacked the Circumlocution Office. Sometimes, parliamentary questions were asked about it, and even parliamentary motions made or threatened about it by demagogues so low and ignorant as to hold that the real recipe of government was, How to do it. Then would the noble lord, or right honourable gentleman, in whose department it was to defend the Circumlocution Office, put an orange in his pocket, and make a regular field-day of the occasion. Then would he come down to that house with a slap upon the table, and meet the honourable gentleman foot to foot. Then would he be there to tell that honourable gentleman that the Circumlocution Office not only was blameless in this matter, but was commendable in this matter, was extollable to the skies in this matter. Then would he be there to tell that honourable gentleman that, although the Circumlocution Office was invariably right and wholly right, it never was so right as in this matter. Then would he be there to tell that honourable gentleman that it would have been more to his honour, more to his credit, more to his good taste, more to his good sense, more to half the dictionary of commonplaces, if he had left the Circumlocution Office alone, and never approached this matter. Then would he keep one eye upon a coach or crammer from the Circumlocution Office sitting below the bar, and smash the honourable gentleman with the Circumlocution Office account of this matter. And ugh one of two things always happened; namely, either that the Circumlocution Office had nothing to say and said it, or that it had something to say of which the noble lord, or right honourable gentleman, blundered one half and forgot the other; the Circumlocution Office was always voted immaculate by an accommodating majority.

Such a nursery of statesmen had the Department become in virtue of a long career of this nature, that several solemn lords had attained the reputation of being quite unearthly prodigies of business, solely from having practised, How not to do it, as the head of the Circumlocution Office. As to the minor priests and acolytes of that temple, the result of all this was that they stood divided into two classes, and, down to the junior messenger, either believed in the Circumlocution Office as a heaven-born institution that had an absolute right to do whatever it liked; or took refuge in total infidelity, and considered it a flagrant nuisance.


From: Joel Connelly [] abbreviated by AC from Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Wednesday, March 3, 2004

In days when it was stripping ancient forests from steep hillsides, and shipping the raw logs to Japan, our state Department of Natural Resources operated by the maxim: My way or the highway. It had a clearcut solution for forests in the Sultan River basin east of Everett, the Clearwater River on the west side of the Olympic Peninsula, and the South Fork-Nooksack River country near Bellingham.

Bureaucracies adapt to survive. Our once-infamous "Department of Nothing Remaining" seemed yesterday to be trying out a new motto: You can have your cake and eat it too. It promised more logging, more income and more environmental protection -- all at the same time.

The DNR persuaded the Board of Natural Resources to give the go-ahead to a 10-year "preferred alternative" for management of 1.4 million acres of state-owned forests in Western Washington.

The bottom line: Logging will increase by at least 30 percent over current levels.

Let's start with new terminology. Instead of clearcuts, the department now speaks of "regeneration harvest." Logging along sensitive streams is referred to as creating "biodiversity pathways." Overall, the preferred alternative is called "active stewardship."

How much has really changed? Before taking up the statewide plan, the Board of Natural Resources ratified several large cuts.

"Regeneration harvest" in the 237-acre Camp Robber timber sale down in Clark County will leave exactly eight trees per acre. Likewise the Vedder Top sale in Whatcom County, and the Taggin Sale in Snohomish County. The North Branch sale down in Wah- kiakum County is a little more generous, leaving nine trees per acre. A clearcut by any other name is still a clearcut.

The DNR has also been juggling figures. A couple of weeks back, the estimated average annual timber cut for the next decade was pegged at about 630 million board feet: Yesterday, it was scaled back to 554 million board feet -- with the 630 million board foot goal set for a decade down the line. Why? It will take time to "ramp up," Mackey said. "There are implementation realities we can't get around."

The department has also revised downward estimates of cutting in riparian zones, areas near streams. In mid-February it envisioned 3,052 acres of "regeneration harvest" each year, yielding 25,800 board feet per acre, from such sensitive places. The latest version of the plan lists 1,500 acres of "variable density thinning" each year producing 16,000 board feet per acre.

Bob Dick of the American Forest Resources Council was full of praise for the department, its data, its plan and a process that he described as "open beyond belief." Alluding to the bad old days, Dick added: "That was the 1970s. It's not today. It is a much different world out there and the DNR knows it." True. Our "Department of Nothing Remaining" is saintly compared with, say, the pillagers operating out of the Chilliwack Ranger District of the British Columbia Forest Service.

The Canadians have recently stripped a small mountain valley, surrounded by Skagit Valley and Manning provincial parks, just north of the U.S. border. B.C. is planning more cuts in Depot Creek, which flows over the border from our North Cascades National Park. High-elevation clearcuts on land along the U.S.-Canada border remain open scars decades after the loggers have left. Still, the Department of Natural Resources is a willful beast -- and one that is out to sustain itself for 10 years to come.

When this column criticized DNR's rapid-fire hearing schedule last December -- and predicted that the wheels were greased for more logging -- Bruce Mackey wrote an angry op-ed piece denying that any decisions were made. Watching him steer the "preferred alternative" through the Board of Natural Resources yesterday, I was reminded of the police commissioner in "Casablanca" who was shocked -- shocked! -- upon learning that gambling was going on at Rick's.

The public will get the formality of one more response when the Department of Natural Resources publishes its final environmental impact statement in May. By Memorial Day, the DNR should be able to say, "Gentlemen, start your chain saws."


Andy Rooney looks at President Bush's $1.5 billion proposal to promote marriage in the U.S. and the possibility sending someone on a one-way 35-million-mile trip to Mars:


The Complete Idiot's Guide to Robert's Rules of Order by Nancy Sylvester

Complete and thorough, but simplified in plain English! Finally, a Robert's Rules of Order in an easy to understand format. 352 pages of everything you will ever need to know to keep your organization or meetings running smooth!