Category Archives: commentary

If The Elephant In The Room Could Talk.

Elephants are really smart.

Actress Kim Basinger, not long after her published financial struggles, took on a very noble cause: saving the endangered breed. Her celebrity drew worthy attention to the plight of these grand, lumbering creatures. I remember paying special attention, for two reasons: 1.) Kim Basinger had been raised among Bible-believing Christian fundamentalists, as had I; 2.) Ms. Basinger, a woman after my own heart, seemed to know something the rest of us would need to learn.

Re: Wikipedia:

“The elephant (both Asian and African) has a very large and highly complex neocortex, a trait also shared by humans, apes and certain dolphin species.

Asian elephants have the greatest volume of cerebral cortex available for cognitive processing of all existing land animals. It exceeds that of any primate species, with one study suggesting elephants be placed in the category of great apes in terms of cognitive abilities for tool use and tool making.[11]

The elephant brain exhibits a gyral pattern more complex and with more numerous convolutions, or brain folds, than that of humans, other primates, or carnivores, but less complex than that of cetaceans.[15] Elephants are believed to rank equal with dolphins in terms of problem-solving abilities,[9] and many scientists tend to rank elephant intelligence at the same level as cetaceans; a 2011 article published by ABC Science suggests that, “elephants [are as] smart as chimps, [and] dolphins“.[7]

Other areas of the brain

Elephants also have a very large and highly convoluted hippocampus, a brain structure in the limbic system that is much bigger than that of any human, primate or cetacean.[16] The hippocampus of an elephant takes up about 0.7% of the central structures of the brain, comparable to 0.5% for humans and with 0.1% in Risso’s dolphins and 0.05% in bottlenose dolphins.[17]

The hippocampus is linked to emotion through the processing of certain types of memory, especially spatial. This is thought to be possibly why elephants suffer from psychological flashbacks and the equivalent of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).[18][19]

So, along with their obvious dominance in size among Earth’s living creatures, elephants apparently carry formidable capacities for comprehension.

Ergo the one stuck in the room, as it were, of our current public health aftermath. What would the elephant say, about the steadily increasing number of sudden deaths among our population?

The press releases had been identifying numerous cases of cardiac arrest; now, we note, the reports merely indicate death by “natural causes.” The latter phrase is usually employed to distinguish between those found under suspicious circumstances, i.e. homicide or suicide. Natural causes, however, cover a specific range: a.) massive stroke; and, b.) cardiac arrest. When one is found unresponsive, alone, at home, expired neither expectedly nor due to progressive deterioration, this is classified as a sudden death.

And, sudden death does occur. But, statistically, how frequently, and why do we now see reports of these daily?

The question is fundamental.

If only the elephant could speak.

Maybe a trip to the zoo is in order. My ears are open.




Copyright 5/13/23 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. All rights those of the author, whose name appears above this line. Sharing by blog link, exclusively; no copying – in whole/part/by translation. Thank you for considering the questions.

Living The True Story.

A guitar player I know just posted a summary of his life, on social media.

Guitar players being legion on this planet, many of us tend to pigeonhole these ubiquitous musicians. We not so subconsciously sort them into: 1.) Great! 2.) Solid. 3.) …not so hot. And, then we go about our lives.

This man, however, was a breed apart. He’d done what our generation would have called “everything”. His fingers traveling so far beyond the frets had been in so many pies, professions, callings. And, because we all KNEW him, we also accepted his life accomplishments as valid. True. No question. They all really happened.

Now, why would we not challenge his veracity?

“We” are the generation that birthed the music of the ’70’s. The last intimate ballad. The recording that just was – no gimmicks; no video enhancements; no synthetic percussion; no studio production. And, we couldn’t have known how important this would become, to that fading value: history.

Oprah Winfrey recently spoke, at a Tennessee commencement*. Her topic? The Impostor Syndrome. By now, we all know its definition: “Fake it ’til you make it.”

And, what has this errant directive birthed?

George Santos.

Liar, extraordinaire. Now, facing the music of his masquerade.

Time was, if you did it, you could prove it; if you didn’t, no way could you find acceptance among the self respecting.

“We” aren’t sure who came up with the outlandish idea that faking anything in order to reach status of any worth was the way to go. One thing is certain: the service industry, just to name one, is rife with its following; how many phone calls to customer support yield “I’m sorry for the inconvenience” and “let me put you on hold”? Too many.

Entire enterprises are populated by the oblivious, whose only observable skills include Googling Wikipedia, submitting a screen grabbed report, taking a long lunch, and leaving early. Gone is what used to be called “toil.” Sweat, and blood. Feeling that good kind of tired, at the end of a highly productive day.

On the other hand, jumping on the treadmill of the masses, striving to achieve, hoping somebody notices – that led our generation to the Land of Diminishing Returns. A life really well lived used to be its own reward; now, we lean back in our proverbial rockers and watch the vastly under-experienced sail past us, some of them actually flying, never breaking basal body temp, and swinging from one brass ring to the next like a cage full of monkeys.

Enter the devices of man, as catalyst. Robotics; artificial intelligence; pre-programmed machines, replacing live workers. Perhaps the current generation in charge feels obliteration nipping at its heels; maybe the going motivation is just getting through the day without losing grip on the ledge.

Yet, the glimmer of hope pulsates. Vinyl records are back. Being able to touch something made by another human, without threat of its virtual presence vaporizing in the next second….

In our collective gut, we sense that returning to authenticity is our only survival. Living the true story – the only path which will lead us away from extinction.


*I didn’t listen to the entire speech; any thoughts verbalized in this piece which resemble statements she made therein are entirely coincidental (or, channeled?).

Copyright 5/12/2023 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. All rights those of the author, whose story it is(inspired by guitarist et al, Joseph Popp) and whose name really does appear above this line. No copying – in part; whole; or, by translation – permitted; sharing by blog link, exclusively. Thank you for being real.

The Poppy.

The pacasandra had choked out everything on the corner leading to the porch. Frantic, I took to my steel rake to dig out, searching to find the frail giant poppies which had survived a mindless mow-over years ago, now desperately needing sun to flourish.

Thank God, there it was. The poppy sapling unearthed, I kept up my frenetic pace — and, NO! — tore one poppy leaf. Then, inexplicably, another. This was not happening. Not this.

I called Stan’s. Will was so kind. He said if even some portion of one leaf survived my onslaught, the poppy could still take sun and bloom. I went back, to look. Yes; one leaf remained, as did the stem, still curled above the soil edge ready to open. I cleared about five inches around and, following Will’s advice, stuck a couple nitrogen spikes into the dirt to help the poppy along.

Then, sun setting, I went inside.

This morning, early for me, I was outside by 10:15. My first visit: the poppy patch. Aghast, I could not believe my eyes; there was NO SIGN of the sprout, at all – and, the dirt looked fresh, as if somebody or some creature had deliberately and completely c.o.v.e.r.e.d. it.

A walking dog? A feral cat? A skunk? Kids?

My fingers small but deft, they scrambled around in that spot, desperately hoping. Finally, the frail sprig emerged – still rooted, it’s one remaining leaf weighed down by soil. Dusting it gently, I spoke to it, righting the stem of the leaf.

Then, I set to work. Running to the backyard, grabbing three white picket fence pieces intended for the raspberry patch, SOMETHING had to protect this flowering treasure! In minutes, I had them hammered around the border of the sidewalk corner leading to the porch. Then, the Cutco scissors, to trim back even more of that choking pacasandra.

Here’s hoping people with their walking dogs have both mercy and respect. There’s already a dead spot, right at the corner, and another up close to the hydrangea around the side of the porch. I’ve rapped on the window at the offender, and actually spoken to him. He wears a brimmed hat, and walks a white toy poodle. The guy snarked at me, calling me Karen, like some lowlife scumbag.

How can we maintain what we love, with attitudes like this among neighbors? What if somebody were to threaten his poodle? I love dogs; I don’t love all dog owners. It’s really hard for me to forgive people. Life is a challenge, every day.

But, it’s spring, for God’s sake. Let’s live, LET live, and treat every living thing – including what grows on the land belonging to those other than ourselves – with enduring care. If we do, then the whole earth really will be ours to share and enjoy.



Copyright 5/5/23 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. Photo also that of the author, whose name appears above this line. Please respect original material, written and captured by actual living human beings.