About a year ago, the Flyer published a story by Little Rock writer Leslie Peacock about the rediscovery of the ivory-billed woodpecker in Arkansas' Big Swamp country. A version of the story had originally appeared in the Arkansas Times a couple of weeks earlier. Peacock is a talented writer, and she'd come up with a clever concept. To quote from her story: "Poet Wallace Stevens' '13 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird' is about the vagaries of perception. This story is about how we see things too. And so: 13 ways of looking at an ivory-billed woodpecker." Peacock broke her story into 13 numbered segments, each concerning a different aspect of the search and discovery.
Imagine my surprise when I opened The New York Times Sunday magazine this week and read Jack Hitt's story about the search for the ivory-billed woodpecker in Arkansas. It too was broken into 13 numbered segments. The title: "13 Ways of Looking at an Ivory-billed Woodpecker." In the age of Google, I find it highly unlikely that the writer hadn't seen the previously published stories. It's not exactly plagiarism, but it certainly seems to be a case of fowl play.
Speaking of wild life: Did you read about President Bush's interview last week with Bild, Germany's largest newspaper? Near the end of a wide-ranging discussion on foreign policy, Iraq, Iran, and other weighty subjects, the interviewer asked the following question: "What was the most wonderful moment in your terms of being President so far, and what was the most awful moment?"
The president, not surprisingly, cited September 11, 2001, as the most awful moment of his time in office. As for his "most wonderful moment," Bush said this: "I don't know, it's hard to characterize the great moments. ... I would say the best moment was when I caught a seven-and-a-half-pound largemouth bass on my lake."
Let's review, class: The president's worst moment in office was a terrorist attack on U.S. soil that killed 3,000 Americans. No argument there.
His best moment as president: catching a big fish on his private lake. Come to think of it, no argument there, either.
Bruce VanWyngarden, Editor