Never in my quite long life have I written to editors before, but the rat story was so delightful, I had to give you strokes (to encourage your positive behavior). I always love your magazine, but the Lambert article is a gem among gems.
I read “The Eyes Have It” [Illusions], by Susana Martinez-Conde and Stephen L. Macknik, with interest because I have early (“dry”) macular edema, a condition that affects my eyesight. I was unable to fuse Albert Einstein’s face clearly in the hybrid images. My inability to experience this illusion may be of interest in research because it implies, to me, a major influence of the macula not readily explained in the article.
To describe my macular defect in detail, I have sufficient vision to read a telephone book with 2.0 diopter correction and to see ordinary highway signs at ordinary distances with no correction, but I have trouble fusing small fine lines in near vision and seeing straight lines as straight.
I am an 83-year-old retired psychiatrist who has had a great interest in neuropsychiatry.
R. C. Rosan
In regards to Kurt Kleiner’s story “Lunchtime Leniency” [Head Lines]: others have observed that rulings are harsher when the judges are hungry. In “The Rape of the Lock,” first published in 1712, Alexander Pope wrote this chilling couplet:
The hungry judges
soon the sentence sign
And wretches hang that
jurymen may dine.
I was interested to read about the study of Israeli rulings on convicts’ parole requests. Before attributing the higher rate of approvals at the beginning of a session to the breakfast or snack the judge ate just before start-ing, I would want to know what else the judge may have been doing before beginning the day or resuming the proceedings.
From my experience as a judge in Canada, I know that judges often organize their cases according to the time they are likely to require. Shorter cases are often dealt with first to allow busy prosecutors and defense attorneys who have narrowed the issue to one requiring only a few minutes of the judge’s time to leave court and get on with the rest of their day. The cases are often reshuffled during a recess based on what the lawyers have told the judge before the recess about how long their cases are likely to take.
If the Israeli judges’ approach is similar, that could explain why the requests that are dealt with at the beginning of the day or immediately after a recess are more likely to be approved. The longer, more difficult cases reserved for later in the day are not as likely to be slam dunks for the defense.
That is not to say that justice would not be better served if judges spent more of their recesses having a snack (or getting some brief exercise) instead of reviewing and prioritizing their nextseveral cases. Limited judicial resources and the volume of work at busier courthouses can take a toll on the quality of judicial decisions, as well as on the health of judges.
Should Have Been Hermes
In the solution to Head Games puzzle number 5, you name Mercury as a figure in Greek mythology. Mercury was, in fact, a figure in Roman mythology.