Friday, June 25, 2010

How did this even happen?

This Western Tanager died mysteriously. Then it hung from this wire for over two weeks. The wire is on the west side of Agua Fria, right by La Joya. I drive by it every day. For about a week I thought it might be a Butterfinger wrapper or something. It's just so improbable.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

What's blowing my mind grapes this morning?

Before I answer, I would like to take a moment to console Celtics fans. I always have liked Ray Allen. Kevin Garnett is from Chicago and has a certain type of charming insanity. Paul Pierce is like Rocky, but with getting fouled instead of getting punched. Rondo, well he's just great.

But what's mind blowing about the Celtics core players? Well, 3 of those players share names with galagos.

The Rondo dwarf galago (coincidentally, the smallest of all galago species)

Allen's galago

The only organisms I can find named Pierce's ___ are Pierce's Disease, which is a bacterial disease that affects grape vines, and Pierce's Pride Tomato, which is an heirloom varietal.

Special thanks to the Princeton Encyclopedia of Mammals, page 306, and coffee, for fostering the need for reading material.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Where's the range?

You don't need it. The range gets in the way of worship for the REAL (sexy) hero: the range hood!
If you were to guess where this product and advertising was made, Italy would be pretty high up on the list right?


Well, at least we've come a long way.
No more crazy abusive ads like these (stolen off of an old boingboing post of course):Yup. We've come a long way. From portraying the ideal consumer as conqueror to portraying the ideal consumer as a smug Iago, like the guy in the Twix commercials:

At least now ladies get to be smug about shit too...
So, um, YAY for women and pooping and not beating them and BOO for suggestive hood vent ads and smug fuckfaces. But also YAY for residential hood vents, because they rule.

Who invented the residential hood vent?
A) Marconi
B) Edison
C) Vent-A-Hood
D) Tesla

What do you get when you combine clown college and jazz band camp?

To be fair, I've never been to either of those fine types of institutions, but I imagine it would look exactly like this:

If you think you can't get enough of Steve "The Mad Drummer" Moore, check out youtube or their tour schedule (in case you're wondering, "Is that a link to these guys' MySpace page", the answer is yes). That oughta' do ya'.

Who's got the skills to pay the bills?

This drummer here. Fast forward to 45 seconds to see precision, fury, and gold lamé.

He starts out with standard twirling, but ups the ante with what appears to be the Antony DeLongis rolling whip style.

(Fast forward to 2:10 to see double whip action in his dojo. Don't worry, it's not NSFW.)

Then at 2:25 he starts doing this animatronic thing he learned from The Rockafire Explosion.

And then at the very end it looks like he's going to get up and threaten a kid that spilled his beer halfway through the song. Pretty sweet.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

What's the best team up between man and whales?

Dig this illustration of a glowing orca that someone made for the official website to my favorite whale story ever! {Take that Wreck of the Essex and Mocha-Dick (snicker... the historical whale Moby-Dick was based on, for real).} The full story can be explored on that website, or on Wikipedia, but here's the gist:

For over a hundred years (between 1830 and 1930), every autumn a particular pod of orcas would return to the town sea near the town of Eden on Twofold Bay on the southern tip of Australia, and invited the Davidson family to come hunt baleen whales with them. The orcas would swim into the mouth of the kiah river and breach and hit the water with their tails to get the Davidsons, who then followed them out to sea. On moonless or cloudy nights, the whalers would follow the bio luminescent trail the killers made (so you see, that illustration makes sense now, and is even more awesome). It seems that sometimes one of the killers might even have helped tow the row-boats out. Once they were out there, the whalers would go about whaling the traditional row boat and hand held harpoon way, while the orcas would go about trying to kill the whale the traditional orca way, by biting fins and trying to drown the whale. Once the baleen whale was dead, the whalers would put an anchor and buoy on the dead whale and leave it over night or for a couple of days. The killers would eat the tongue and lips and the whalers would haul in and process the rest. This was called The Law of the Tongue, which is one of the better names for a rule.That's Old Tom, the most famous of the killers. When a human "vagrant" (hobo?) killed one of the killers with a large knife, the pod left and only half returned. Old Tom was one of them. He stuck around until the end. He was the friendliest to people, and was the one best known for towing boats around for fun. There's even a story that says that towards the end, somebody tried to drag in a whale without following The Law of the Tongue, and Old Tom grabbed the rope and tried to stop the motor driven boat, possibly causing extra damage to a tooth and leading to a fatal tooth infection (that information is from the Nature documentary on the subject). One of the old timers in the Nature documentary also claimed that as Old Tom was ailing, he came into shore and the Davidsons fed him fish until he died in the shallows of the river mouth.
I remember the Nature documentary saying that there's evidence to suggest that native people had done this sort of thing before with the whales, though that's not included in what you can get on youtube.

I do find this story a little mind blowing, but as the Killers of Eden website points out: "Some people find it difficult to believe that over a 100+ year period of inter-species contact, encompassing many generations and with the mutual rewards of greater efficiency and food , orcas and humans could develop a co-operative relationship whilst hunting the same prey. Yet those same people have no trouble accepting that with no prior contact with humans, wild orcas placed in aquariums within months will interact with humans, eventually allowing them to ride on their backs or perform huge leaps with humans standing on their snouts."
I guess the mind-blowing part is that the whales would choose to reach out and interact with us. We're used to animals working with us on a food based or dominance based level. I think we think that Sea World whales do the tricks because they have nothing else to do, which is really sort of sad. The whales know they can kill a trainer if they want, they just usually choose not to.

The new book "Deadly Kingdom," by Gordon Grice, explores our relationship with deadly large mammals pretty well for the first half of the book and then peters off into listing the effects of snake venoms and how rabbits enjoy biting. But the first half is good and describes how dogs choose to see us a leaders of packs, and maybe push the boundaries of that by biting a kid or two. It also illuminates the difference between making a lion do tricks and a tiger do tricks. He leads towards an understanding of human animal interactions, including those that put us in the role of prey, that can be more complex than who sees who as food.

So really, that's what I think is important about The Killers of Eden: animals legitimately inviting us to share their world with them, in this case, in a very technical and complex way. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go see if my cat will jump in a box for the internet.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

What's the most extreme type of hunting I can think of?

Let's just put aside THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME (man), and think of other dangerous ways to hunt dangerous animals.

Is it honey hunting in southern India?

Or in Nepal?

Or honey hunting in Bangledesh, where they get eaten by tigers?

So yeah, hunting wild honey looks pretty dangerous everywhere, because it involves climbing, smoke, and thousands of bees. Even this video of getting honey in Zambia, which makes it look pretty easy, still looks dangerous.

But no, the answer is not honey hunting.
The answer is hunting sperm whales with bamboo spears and small knives.

I first saw something about this when I was reading Moby Dick. Though the Daily Mail article I linked to calls the men who hunt Sperm Whales in the Savu Sea between Flores and Timor "stone age", it seems that the differences are minor (different spears and ropes, and they don't have a schooner following them for backup and pickup).
So um, do try to show me a more extreme (non- MOST DANGEROUS GAME) hunting scenario. There probably is one. I may have just thought of one... one that is very similar, but has an extra mind blowing twist to it: The Whales of Eden. It's my personal favorite whale story, and I will share it... TOMORROW.