NATURAL HISTORY DEP’T.
This Moth Needs a New Bad Name
UP IN Saratoga Springs, they were having a moth outbreak—horrible, evocative moths, Lymantria dispar, a nightmare from my childhood. The fat flightless white females were crawling on the tree trunks with the dust-colored males fluttering around them, leaving egg deposits like matted cat hair on the bark. Instantly I was 13 again and at Scout camp, desperate to slash every moth in reach with a pocketknife and burn their egg masses with a lighter. Otherwise the caterpillars being fertilized in those one-sided mating dances would emerge in a horde, devouring every leaf in sight; there was a summer their feces fell so thickly it sounded like an all-day rain pattering down, and there are still dead snags in the woods from the trees that never recovered.
We didn't call them Lymantria dispar, or at least mostly we didn't. The common name they were known by was wiped off the books by the entomologists earlier this month, because it was an ethnic slur against Roma people. They'll figure out a new common name for them later, but they didn't want to wait to get rid of the old one.
It is supposed to feel a little disorienting, both morally and practically, to make these sorts of corrections when everyone's been using the old name for so long. In the United States, especially, where the actual Roma are not a particularly salient ethnic minority, the slur was widely taken as neutral or innocent or abstract. There's a groovy Curtis Mayfield song, there's a famous musical, it's forever popping up in children's books—sometimes identifying a shifty villain, but mostly as an image of freedom and romance. Rarely is it flung at a person directly, the way our more notorious slurs can be. Certainly we weren't thinking anything negative about people when we were busily hacking the moths off the trees of Broad Creek Memorial Scout Reservation.
Nevertheless, we were trying to exterminate an invasive plague, while using a word that was used against the targets of genocide. We don't need to put the old members of the Scout patrol or the entomologists of that era through a tribunal to be able to say, with a minor bit of reflection, that we shouldn't have been doing that. And—this is the key thing—it's easy enough to stop. You just don't use the word, and you're no longer using the word. Just like that. Two years from now it will seem bizarre that the Cleveland baseball team was ever called anything but the Guardians. The moth will get a new name.
Or we can just use its old name: Its genus name under the Linnaean system is Lymantria because "lymantria" means "destroyer." Call it the Destroyer Moth. It deserves it.
Another Week, The Final HMM WEEKLY
GOOD MORNING! This is the last HMM WEEKLY, successor publication to HMM DAILY, distributed via SUBSTACK, a newsletter delivery and reading platform.
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ECONOMIC INDICATOR DEP’T.
VISUAL CONSCIOUSNESS DEP’T.
At The Grocery Checkout
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BRAIN ITCH DEP’T.
SANDWICH RECIPES DEP’T.
WE PRESENT instructions for the assembly of sandwiches from Salads, Sandwiches and Chafing Dish Recipes, Copyright 1916, now in the public domain for the delectation of all, written by Marion Harris Neil, M.C.A., former Cookery Editor, The Ladies’ Home Journal, author of How to Cook in Casserole Dishes, Candies and Bonbons and How to Make Them, Canning, Preserving and Pickling, and The Something-Different Dish.
POTTED BEEF SANDWICHES
1 1/2 lbs. lean beef
1/2 lb. (1 cup) butter
Powdered cloves and mace
Powdered allspice and nutmeg
Salt and red pepper
4 boned anchovies
Few drops red color
Cut the beef into tiny pieces, put it into an earthenware jar with one-half of the butter. Cover the jar, set it in a pan of boiling water, and cook. When nearly ready, add cloves, mace, allspice, nutmeg, salt, and red pepper to taste; then continue to boil it until tender and let it get cold.
Wash and bone the anchovies and pound them with the meat, the remainder of the butter, and a few drops of red color. Press into small pots and cover with melted butter or suet.
This mixture is suitable for any emergency and may be used with rolls or bread.
1/4 lb. (1 cup) seeded raisins
1/4 lb. (1 cup) chopped nut meats
1/2 tablespoonful lemon-juice
2 ozs. (4 tablespoonfuls) sweet butter
Toasted crackers or brown bread
A few boiled raisins
Wash, dry, and chop the raisins, add the nut meats, lemon-juice, and butter; mix to a paste and spread between toasted crackers or thin slices of brown bread. Decorate with boiled raisins.
Or mix equal quantities of chopped raisins and chopped pecan nut meats, add four tablespoonfuls of boiled or mayonnaise dressing and one teaspoonful of lemon-juice; when smooth, spread between slices of buttered bread. Cut in crescents or squares.
1 long loaf bread
1 pint (2 cups) cooked chopped ham
1/2 pint (1 cup) chopped stuffed olives
1/4 lb. (1 cup) chopped English walnut meats
Mix the ham, olives, and nuts with enough boiled dressing to cover them. Use a loaf that is square at the ends and one day old. Remove the crusts from the loaf and with a very sharp knife cut it into even slices, one-eight of an inch thick. Place these slices together in the original form, wrap them in a damp cloth, and let them stand for two hours. By that time they will be soft enough to roll without breaking. Spread each slice with the softened butter and the mixture, roll it, and then wrap it in a piece of waxed paper that is wide enough to go nearly twice around it and long enough to extend beyond the roll in a twist at each end. Keep on ice until wanted.
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HMM WEEKLY WAS written by Tom Scocca, editor, and Joe MacTruffle, creative director. If you enjoyed Hmm Weekly, please let a friend know about it, because next week there will be MORE to read, under our new banner: INDIGNITY! If you're reading this because someone forwarded it to you, we invite you to sign up for a copy of your own right now. Thanks for reading, and any time you want, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.