Re: NANFA-- "Ugliest fish in North America"

Steffen Hellner (
Tue, 06 Jan 2004 22:41:22 +0100

> I guess what my point is Steffen, is to not stop watching for that
> independent or potentially independent person, and to keep the focus off of
> what is "wrong". There may be many more worthy opportunities than appear,
> and most of the time, they get missed in the noise of what is unworthy.

I love to say I agree with you. No doubt about that. Maybe I am already too
much influenced by what I have experienced and still do in this concern. As
Sir Carl Popper said: Optimism is a must! I follow that as good as I can.
But I try not to come into a perspective comparable to the mentality "oh, we
will manage that. It4s not that bad". It is worse! I hope that the new
majority of braindeads in the upgrowing generation will be lead by the few
intelligent ones left after the epidemic brain diseases like playstation,
MTV, money and consum have done their destructive mindwork. Not to be
misunderstood. I like a house, a nice car, nice cloth, good meals and modern
electronics. But I am not willing to sacrifice the world for a bigger house,
a SUV or beamer 7 with top exclusive interior or the luxury of a yacht or a
dress from Gucci. Its the rich people showing the less rich how "great" it
is to wear zobel-fur, drive Ferrari, eat Caviar and all that stuff. Therefor
the less rich try to compensate the ferrari with a small sportscar, the
zobel with a mink, the caviar with shrimp and the Gucci dress with one from
Boss. Or do you think that the rising number of girls having their breasts
enlarged with silicone, and the men who like this have anything like a sense
for nature? This "Generation Britney Spears" to me is lost (only in general
- except individual encounters). Try the next coming up to make it better.

> To think 4 years ago, I had my butt firmly placed 4-8 hours a day in front
> of a TV, _drunk_ as hell, angry and bitter that "such a mindless people and
> culture could put me in the undesireable situation I was in". (no logical
> falicies in there at all huh? ;) I knew nothing academically of the
> world, besides some dry text book readings about cells n stuff and
> that were lecture notes... And that nature was still "neat" but kinda out
> the way for the most part because they "paved it ALL over".
That4s kinda familiar to me. Except the drinking. Only a few, only

> To now, where I get emails from 3rd graders asking how they can learn about
> longear sunfish, invitations to join an academic community, and offers from
> a semi-major American Zoo to design and teach a week long summer camp to
> junior and high school students about North American fish and their
> I personally don't have time any longer to wonder about or dwell on what's
> broke. I'm too busy helping those who want to learn or fix.

I am happy for you and what you do. Maybe the young generation in the USA is
better motivated, more open, more ambitious than here in f.o.G.

> Certainly not everyone is cut to take the academic route I seem to be
> toward, or a large majority of the knowledge I seek (and I sincerely hope
> this doesn't sound like I'm getting too big for my britches :). I mean
> really, who in their right mind cares how some chunks of ice a few years
> back affect where life is today?

I think it is an advantage of the society in the USA that there is not that
traditional "nose-up" of academics as in Germany and that one is accepted if
he is just good in his job or what he does. Here you will rather be damned
if you know or do anything better than others. It starts in school already.
If one is interested and active, he/she is "teachers darling" and will be
locked out from the bunch. I can see this in my sons class actually. The
bunch always wants to drag the better down. The system works different than
where you live. Orientation point is not the better but the inferior here.
That4s why thinking about elite schools and universities is getting more and
more serious. If we go on like this we will be right at the end soon. In
every aspect. I saw public aquariums and zoos in the south (TX, LA) and was
astonished about what they do for the visitors esp. the kids. We are far
away from this here.

And I want to make you sure that I do what you are doing within my radius.
My son and every young or older person interested in my subjects will find a
patient and encouraging lecturer. And I was asked to give lessons about our
native salamanders for pupils in my state. I am about to set this up next
year after my house is built and the new salamander room will be equipped.
That4s one more reason for me to build up a collection of various native and
foreign species of fish and amphibia (sorry I am not into birds or mammals)
to show different types, models and strategies of biology. Most people in
Germany have never seen a fire salamander or newt alive. There was a class
visiting a farm to show the children and teenagers how a cow looks like. He,
I grew up with all this stuff. But nowadays its prohibited to even go
watching tadpoles.

I would like to come back to you to ask for some advice from your practise
and experience with children and camps, if you don4t mind.

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