Zoology

The Donald Trump Show (Somebody Stop Me)

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump answers a question during the third presidential debate at University of Nevada Las Vegas, 19 October 2016. (AP Photo/John Locher)

“I don’t know, you tell me. You know what? Why don’t you ask Hillary if she cares that cows can’t digest corn?”

Bill Scheft

You know, it’s a lot funnier to actually attribute it to Donald Trump, but there isn’t really a good way of doing that anymore. There is, to the one, Poe’s Law; there is, to the other, Donald Trump’s easily confused legion.

But it’s the one funny line in the premature flaccidity. Nor ought we blame Mr. Scheft; flaccid is the way of the Trump, and pretty much all caricature of this emblematic strangeness extends into that range, eventually achieving its best expression as metacommentary considering Donald Trump’s seminal lack of viability.

Prematurity? Bravado? Mindbending foolishness? It isn’t so much superstition this time; rather, the fact that Donald Trump is the GOP nominee at all tells us there is enough wrong in the world that vigilance serves us best.

____________________

Image note: Detail of photo by John Locher/AP Photo.

Scheft, Bill. “Donald Trump’s exit interview: ‘I just found out what the job paid. $400,000. You’re kidding, right?'”

Advertisements

Your Lede of the Day (Allegation and Alligator)

Er … okay ...

Authorities in Florida have arrested a man accused of throwing a live alligator through a restaurant’s drive-through window.

(Chokshi and Larimer)

If the lede isn’t strange enough, there is the detail:

Once approached by authorities, James admitted to having picked up the alligator along the side of a road, driving to Wendy’s and throwing the beast through the drive-through window.

A judge on Tuesday ordered James to stay away from all Wendy’s restaurants, to avoid possessing any weapons, to get a mental health evaluation and to limit his contact with animals to his mother’s dog, according to WPTV.

James’s parents described him to the TV station as an outdoorsman and harmless prankster, adding that he viewed famous crocodile hunter and conservationist Steve Irwin as an idol.

At some point, this really does start to sound like a farce that never should have seen a green light. For the suspect, Mr. James, and everyone else ranging from inconvenienced to terrified in the moment of dealing with an alligator chucked through the window, reality unfortunately reminds that this is apparently not some script for the next Will Ferrell movie.

____________________

Chokshi, Niraj and Sarah Larimer. “Assault with a deadly weapon: Florida man charged with throwing alligator into Wendy’s”. The Washington Post. 9 February 2016.

Way Too Much Effort for a Cheap Joke

Detail of 'Bug Martini' by Adam Huber, 30 November 2015.“That the words uttered by the brave Tazendra are not as grandiose and full of pomp as Kieron the Conqueror’s, ‘The sea has brought our salvation’, or Undauntra the First’s, ‘Let him who doubts the victory wrest the banner from my hand’, or Sethra Lavode’s, ‘I speak for the Mountain and the Mountain speaks for the Orb’, or Lord Kuinu’s, ‘By all the Lords of Judgment, it is proved at last’, or expressive of the elegant understatement of Tigarre’s famous, ‘Turn around, my lord; I am behind you’, or Deo’s, ‘Welcome, my lady, to my home’; still, they are what was said, and so our duty as historian places before us the necessity of laying them before the reader.”

―Paarfi of Roundwood

See what I did there?

Never mind. Paarfi does.

Adam doesn’t, but that’s not important. In fact, Adam is only important on this occasion because it’s his fault I thought of Tigarre at all; and maybe I should be at least somewhat distressed about the proposition that I have yet to figure if Tigarre is the historical figure or historian.

And, yes, I would feel really stupid if someone has done that bit before, but I would still blame Adam because it was either the Tigarre joke or Facebooking my sister-in-law.

Oh, and we can safely ignore Steven; he’s just a set piece and occasional washing-machine leveler.

You know. Ironic counterpoint. Subtext. Dark side of the moon flashing like a drive indicator.

A tangent to the contextual orbit ’round my head.

____________________

Image note: Tigarre the Turtle? ― Detail of Bug Martini by Adam Huber, 30 November 2015.

Brust, Steven. “Official Biography”. The Dream Café. 5 November 2015.

Paarfi of Roundwood. “The Lord of Castle Black: Describing Certain Events Which Occurred Between the 247th Year of the Interregnum and the 1st Year of the Reign of Empress Zerika the Fourth”. The Viscount of Adrilankha, vol. 2. Adrilankha: Glorious Mountain, 179 NOR2.

A Fair Point

→"I didn't 'evolve' from no monkey! I descend from two people cursed for disobeying God, and the incestuous unions of their children!" | (I never understood the 'argument from dignity'.)← ('Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal' by Zach Weiner, 21 May 2015.)Two notes:

(1) He’s got a point.

(2) Argument from Dignity? Is that what it’s called? Really?

Something about Scott Walker goes here, but something else tells me that’s not quite right.

____________________

Weiner, Zach. “Descent”. Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal. 21 May 2015.

A Bug in His Natural Habitat

Detail of 'Bug Martini' by Adam Huber, 10 April 2015.Well, you know, that works. Seems kind of obvious, doesn’t it?

Still, that only raises the obvious question. Where would you lurk?

____________________

Huber, Adam. “A Killer Cup of Coffee”. Bug Martini. 10 April 2015.

Jonjak’s Magnificient Natural Whore Revue

You know how every once in a while, someone for some reason decides to remind you that this or that isn’t natural? You know, gay sex, a man wearing a skirt, women with unshaved legs and no man on top of her … yeah. Anyway:Detail: Illustration of bottlenose dolphin by Brian Britigan for The Stranger, 11 February 2015.

Female bottlenose dolphins use their snouts as dildos on other females. These activities don’t always coincide with a low availability of males, but no surprises there. Apparently when the ladies are bored and desperate to get off, terms such as “motherhood fantasies” or “lifelong commitment” mean absolutely nothing to them.

So if I tell you that Marti Jonjak’s article for The Stranger, on “Whores of the Animal Kingdom” only goes downhill from there, well, right.

Then again, that’s probably what makes it worth reading, and why you should keep the link at hand to deliver unto the next person ejaculating that stuff about what is and isn’t “natural”.

____________________

Jonjak, Marti. “Whores of the Animal Kingdom”. The Stranger. 11 February 2015.

Something Completely Different

And now for something completely different:

The Beeb ....Depending on your point of view, it is one of life’s great questions.

How does a tortoise that has flipped onto its back, get up again?

It’s not a rhetorical question, and it goes beyond being a metaphorical or metaphysical query, or a subject for drunken debate.

For a tortoise it is a deadly serious matter; being able to right itself counts as one of life’s epic struggles, a potential matter of life and death.

Now scientists have investigated this struggle in detail, determining if and how tortoises have evolved to do it.

(Walker)

Fascinating reading that has exactly nothing to do with Mitch McConnell.

____________________

Walker, Matt. “The upside down tortoise enigma”. British Broadcasting Corporation. 8 January 2015.

A New Phrase for Your Personal Lexicon: ‘Butt-Mounted Glowstick’

A recently-discovered predatory glow worm from Peru. (Photo by Jeff Cremer)

“It’s not often you see a wall full of glowing predators.”

Aaron Pomerantz

Start your day the creepy way.

Sounds good. It rhymes. It’s not quite eight-thirty in the morning, and the coffee hasn’t kicked in, so silly rhymes work. Still, though, creepy is as creepy does, and it probably isn’t fair to call it creepy just because it’s a creeping, crawling, burrowing, predatory bit of nature that just happens to glow with a bioluminescence that allows us to see the internal organs lighting up.

Can we call that creepy? You know, without maligning nature? Then again, maybe we can blame Aaron Pomerantz of Tambopata Research Center. Really, what part of the idea of “a wall full of glowing predators” isn’t creepy?

Or maybe Gwen Pearson isn’t helping anything by her comparison:

The greenish worms are the larval form of a click beetle, and their glow seems to have one function: attracting prey. The larvae are more like a Tremors graboid than a Star Wars saarlac: hiding out in little tunnels with just their glowing head sticking out, their jaws are spread wide open. When a hapless insect is attracted to the light and blunders into their lair, the jaws snap shut. The glow seems to function only to attract prey, not for protection. In fact, once disturbed, the lights go out. Pomerantz said “they just sort of shut off once we pulled them out.”

(more…)

Not Politics (Orb Weaver Mix)

The scientists described their estimate of 35,176 spiders/m³ as “markedly conservative” and “representing a minimum volume” of spiders, by the way.

Question: do you measure spiders in Metric ShitTons? Or in Imperial ShitLoads?

Either way, it’s an awful lot of spiders.

Gwen Pearson

It is, actually, difficult to admit just how it is that spiders affect so many of us so irrationally. And it offers no useful comfort to point to the next person and note that they’re even worse about it. Then again, four acres of orb spinners just waiting for some unfortunate organism to blunder into their trap, amounting to a population estimated somewhere above one hundred seven million spiders, and a “markedly conservative” estimate of maximum population density at 35,176 spiders/m³.

Detail of Greene, et al. (2010). Table 1 shows Architectural Elements Used to Estimate Total Amount of Volumetric Webbing in Back River Sand Filtration Facility.Come on. Admit it. You’d be just as bad about it as the next person.

The 2010 technical paper is available, for those so inclined, either through Pearson’s blog for Wired.com, or in our own archives.

____________________

Pearson, Gwen. “4-Acre Spider Web Engulfs Building”. Charismatic Minifauna. 31 October 2014.

Greene, Albert et al. “An Immense Concentration of Orb-Weaving Spiders With Communal Webbing in a Man-Made Structural Habitat (Arachnida: Araneae: Tetragnathidae, Araneidae)”. American Entomologist, 56 (3). 2010.

Something About Chimpanzee Personhood

"This is not a welfare issue," argued Wise, who says existing animal welfare statutes permit Tommy to be kept alone in a cage. "The question is whether there is an unlawful detention here." To which Peters rejoined: What is unlawful about the detention?

So … right. Personhood for chimpanzees … and … go:

Can an animal who possesses the essential qualities of personhood ever be considered, in the eyes of the law, a person?

As of now, the answer is no. But a panel of New York state judges yesterday considered that question, which was posed by a group called the Nonhuman Rights Project on behalf of a 26-year-old chimpanzee named Tommy.

(Keim)

It is a compelling question, yet we should not feel silly for failing to grasp the implications; the range and magnitude are unknown, though we might simply say they are tremendous. Brandon Keim of Wired also offered some background when the case arose last year.

It is easy enough to agree with the proposition that species is irrelevant to personhood if one has cognitive capacity when we stare at walking, talking, and often shooting extraterrestrials on the silver screen, or reading adventures of human assassins who might otherwise fall in love with elves, but one might reasonably suggest we have problems dealing with questions of personhood in real life, insofar as they actually pertain to people we would otherwise already recognize as people. To the other, that does not mean the question of whether or not a chimpanzee counts as a person is without merit.

Still, though, given that all this occurs against a backdrop of an election season in which questions of personhood are emerging as a prominent, confusing, and, apparently, confused issue, the chimp factor is the something of a wildcard. That is to say, it seems rather difficult to suddenly screech up and shift contexts, especially because the implications of the new question could, under certain circumstances—e.g., personhood for chimpanzees—further complicate and confuse the ongoing political context that will, under certain circumstances—e.g., personhood for human zygotes—ultimately become a judicial context.

Yet it remains an interesting question.

____________________

Keim, Brandon. “New York State Court Hears Landmark Chimp Personhood Case”. Wired. 9 October 2014.

—————. “A Chimp’s Day in Court: Inside the Historic Demand for Nonhuman Rights”. Wired. 6 December 2013.

Benen, Steve. “Erst stumbles on ‘personhood’ basics”. msnbc. 6 October 2014.