A silver and black mackerel, hooked on a fisherman’s line, struggling for its last breath, writhes against the overcast sky.


The subeditors
at Slate think fish breathe now?

27 thoughts on “Eh?”

  1. Don’t they breathe… in water? If breathing is extracting oxygen from the surrounding medium.

    That mackerel is drowning, not breathing – but it could be said to be struggling to get its last breath. It just has no chance of doing so.

  2. bloke (not) in spain

    It’s exactly the same process. Pushing an oxygen bearing fluid over a gaseous exchange membrane. We use nitrogen ( & a few trace gases). They use water. It’s where we learnt it

  3. “Breathe” is a bit simpler to describe gaseous exchange across a permeable membrane than whatever the word ichthyologists use to describe the same.

  4. “Breathing is the process that moves air in and out of the lungs, or oxygen through other breathing organs such as gills.”

    I know, I know, that’s from Wikipedia. Seems like you’re just working with a more restrictive definition of “breathe” than most Tim.

    I’m usually a fan of your straight-talking and the way you call people on their bullshit, but do you not think that posts as pedantic as this one may detract from the more important points that you often make?

  5. If you think that this blog is anything other than an amusement for me, myself and I, you might want to adjust your version of reality.

  6. Ed Miliband “has another, larger mackerel downstairs”. Nigel Farage has a mackerel “the size of a lemon”. David Cameron “refuses to participate unless all parties show their mackerels”. Natalie Bennet promises “smaller mackerels, shared fairly”. Scottish National Party has “no mackerel, but we have a Sturgeon”.

  7. “A silver and black mackerel”: the image conjured up of the poor creature, with its mouth opening and shutting to no avail – it really is reminiscent of Mr Moribund, isn’t it?

  8. @Tim Worstall
    “If you think that this blog is anything other than an amusement for me, myself and I, you might want to adjust your version of reality.”
    I think you should (and of course its your blog so you can do what you like) take it more seriously – a lot of what you say is
    a) very good
    b) not said many other places

  9. Also, the first three sentences of the article.

    “On Thursday, Iceland formally withdrew its multiyear bid to join the European Union after its membership negotiations broke down. Over fish.

    Sounds ridiculous?”

    It only sounds ridiculous if you no nothing about Iceland. Or the EU. Or fish.

  10. EJ Thribb (aged 17 1/2)

    It’s actually a cast-off from Ted Hughes, under the confused impression that he’s still the Poet Laureate…

    Lines to celebrate the 41st birthday of Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex

    A silver and black mackerel,
    Hooked on a fisherman’s line,
    Struggling for its last breath,
    Writhes against the overcast sky.
    Many Happy Returns Your Royal Highness.
    .

    Will this do? T.H.

  11. Deirdre Dutt-Pauker

    Yes. Let’s all get a laugh out of an animal’s death.

    Thribb, you may be young but you should know better.

  12. While I’m sure fish breathe in water,I’m less convinced that fish “take a breath”, let alone a last one. Or does a gill movement count as “a breath”?

  13. So Much for Subtlety

    Deirdre Dutt-Pauker – “Yes. Let’s all get a laugh out of an animal’s death.”

    You know, even as a trolling this lacks a certain something.

    Why shouldn’t we get a laugh out of an animal’s death? It is not as if the mackerel knows or would give a damn if it did.

    As for breathing, a good thing some people around here were never asked to go on a quest to steal a Dragon’s treasure as part of a larger plot to over-throw an Evil Empire and free Middle Earth.

    Alive without breath,
    As cold as death;
    Never thirsty, ever drinking,
    All in mail never clinking.

  14. I’ve just looked up a list of Petter Simple characters in Wikipedia, and it contains a sentence of pure genius:
    “Some of his characters are based on real people and some real people seem to be based on his characters.”

  15. Richard Murphy will not be seeking political office, stating, however, that there is still a “place for the public intellectual” (he is one).

    CJ Nerd, has, sadly, brought the whole charade to a conclusion.

    Murphy was the result of a very long lunch enjoyed by Col Wharton, Auberon Waugh and Willi Rushton, with the latter drawing him into life.

    In the sober light of the following day, their creation was regarded as too ludicrous to be believed, and Rushton, never a cruel man, was slightly ashamed of his pompous, humourless cartoon. The joke was never intended to go this far.

    This may be the first known case of trolling from beyond the grave.

  16. If you see fish in poorly oxygenated water they are at the surface trying to breathe with their mouths. I guess they’re trying to get more oxygen mixed with the water flowing over their gills or something.

  17. bloke (not) in spain

    They are seeking the magic mayfly. They have noticed, occasionally one of their number will chance upon this rare insect & after a brief flurry, soar into the air never to be seen again. If they can find it, they too will sprout wings & go in search of the paradise beyond the reeds.

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