In response to the surprisingly popular bird-image-post of the other night, here's some more, from snowy Chicagoland.
Larger context after jump
It's a most excellent sea snail...
http://t.co/P3GJKdLgCd LOL PARECE UMA VAGÁNIA.— Vaus (@pavelskyliner) December 13, 2013
It's Thursday. It's shitty out. Sometimes you just need one of these in your day.
Thanks, Slog Tipper Seija!
That subject line doesn't tell half the story. From this week's Last Days: The Week in Review:
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 3 In more predictable news, the week continues with a rain of drugged mice falling on the US territory of Guam. Details come from NBC News, which identifies the cause of Guam's drugged-mouse rain as the brown tree snake, an invasive species that "likely arrived in an inadequately inspected cargo shipment sometime in the 1950s" and has since grown into an expensive, slithery nuisance. In addition to feasting on the region's exotic birds, the estimated two million brown tree snakes in Guam routinely cause trouble for the island's industrial complexes, which are "regularly bedeviled by power failures caused when the snakes wriggle their way into electric substations—an average of 80 a year, costing as much as $4 million in annual repair costs and lost productivity," reports NBC. Lucky for Guam, brown tree snakes "have an Achilles' heel": acetaminophen, with one-sixth of a standard Tylenol pill containing enough to kill a brown tree snake. Which brings us to the aforementioned rain of mice, each one of which was stuffed with a deadly dose of acetaminophen, tied to a cardboard parachute, then dropped from a low-flying helicopter, with roughly 2,000 such mice rained down on the forested areas of Andersen Air Force Base this past Sunday. As you read this, snakes are OD'ing all over Guam. Let this be a lesson to us all to adequately inspect our cargo shipments.
Indulge your nostalgia for last week with the rest of Last Days here.
Remember the Candlelight Vigil for Nelson Mandela: It's tonight at the International Fountain at Seattle Center, at 6:30 p.m. Goldy explains why Nelson Mandela was such an important man.
Seattle Forms Socialist District: Well, not really, but Kshama Sawant did really well in what will be her home council district. For more district analysis, look here. Plus, you should see this overview of where Seattle's most conservative voters live.
Where's Your Pot At? Check this handy map!
Shape Up or Ship Out: Chief Pugel basically tells the SPD to stop being racist and embrace reform.
Speaking of Cops in Need of Reform: The sergeant who threatened Dominic Holden has been placed on leave.
Fifteen Miles for Fifteen Dollars: Goldy covers the minimum wage march.
Valuing Santa Over the Presidency: Dan Savage says the GOP is blowing itself up over stupid shit.
White Man Insists He's Not Racist: What we need is a Clippy-style software robot who can tell you how to avoid being dumb when you're charged with racism.
Slog Hates Chimps: Or at least, you don't think chimps deserve human rights.
Nobody Loves Slugs: Go die in the cold, invertebrate scum.
You Have Lots of Opinions About Typing: And many of you had suggestions for Jen Graves's typing-related pains.
Give Big to the 2013 Holiday Charity Challenge! All the information you need is right here. If you give more than $25, remember to forward your receipt to email@example.com to claim your fancy commenter tag. Help your favorite band (or blog) win the title of the most givingest musical act (or bunch of lazy, self-hating stoners) in the history of charity!
• Macklemore & Ryan Lewis fans: GIVE HERE!
• Pearl Jam fans: GIVE HERE!
• Slog fans: GIVE HERE!
If you thought the pedigreed hounds of yesterday looked like normal dogs and today's look weird, it's because they've been bred into sickly, misshapen fur statues. The tip comes via Fnarf, who says, "I KNEW there was something terribly wrong with today's German Shepherds compared to the ones I knew just a few decades ago."
Check out the side-by-side comparisons of yesterdogs and modern freakpets.
We are the third chimpanzee. The second is the bonobo, the ape that's small, slim, and (unlike the first chimpanzee) in the habit of using sex for all sorts of social purposes. Being closely related to the dominant mammal of the "cosmic medium" for life in this solar system, however, has not helped the bonobo much; it, like so many other animals, is heading toward the dark of extinction:
The most detailed range-wide assessment of the bonobo (formerly known as the pygmy chimpanzee) ever conducted has revealed that this poorly known and endangered great ape is quickly losing space in a world with growing human populations. The loss of usable habitat is attributed to both forest fragmentation and poaching, according to a new study...Because humans have an unusually complex relationship with their own sexuality, and not their violence (the defining activity of the first chimpanzee), the bonobo, which is also known as the sexy ape, has ended up being "the forgotten ape."
The Nonhuman Rights Project, led by Steven M. Wise, filed papers on Monday in State Supreme Court in Fulton County, N.Y., demanding that courts in New York recognize a chimpanzee known as Tommy as a legal person, with a limited right to liberty. The petition asks the court to remove him from his owners and place him in a sanctuary.
Tommy is a privately owned chimp in Gloversville that the group says “is being held captive in a cage in a shed at a used-trailer lot.” The group said it intended to file suit later this week on behalf of three more chimps in New York, also demanding their freedom.
I'm really curious to see where this story goes. Animal rights are a subject that's going to get a lot of play over the next few decades, and I'm sure that at some point in the future, people will look back at the barbarism of our time with wonder and more than a little disgust. (I say this as a carnivore who is well aware of his own hypocrisy.) But I'm not sure that now is the time for that fight to begin. We still draw a firm line between animals and humans, despite all the mounting evidence that animals experience emotions and communication. I can't see a judge granting this request.
And what does Slog think about this?
Here's the short life story of the lion cubs born last week, and hailed as symbols of resistance, in Gaza.
I get emails begging me to plug Kickstarter projects all the time, and I rarely click through. And I sure wish I hadn't clicked through to this one either, because it's incredibly distressing. According to the page's authors, law enforcement officers shoot a dog every 98 minutes in the US, sometimes under the most casual and callous circumstances. It is a wave of underreported brutality that the authors hope to draw attention to with a feature-length documentary: Puppycide.
I've long been outraged by reports of unnecessary dog shootings, and so this documentary seems like a worthwhile project to fund. But be forewarned in no uncertain terms: Do not watch the demo below unless you're willing to see video of innocent dogs being shot! Really. Don't come yelling at me later that I ruined your day. It's awful. Truly awful. And incredibly heartbreaking.
Last November, as you may recall, the city of Seattle collectively blew a gasket when a 19 year-old wrestled a giant Pacific octopus out of the water and into the back of his pickup truck.
Histrionic concerned citizens blew an extra gasket when they realized his hunt was fully legal. Fisherfolk are allowed to take one GPO per day and, because of a strange convergence of environmental regulations, they must take it "by hand or by instrument which will not penetrate or mutilate the body"—wrestling it out of the water is dangerous (GPOs have been known to attack divers and might be responsible for some deaths), but totally fair game.
Earlier this month, the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife implemented a new policy to protect GPOs at a few popular diving sites and everybody moved on with their lives. But the New York Times has published a great story about the young octopus hunter—with a lovely photo of chef Matt Dillon preparing octopus at Bar Sajor—that might knock your outrage down a few notches:
He wasn’t much of a chef, but he had experience foraging for his dinner. Mayer had attended a high school known for its Future Farmers of America program; he also knew how to slaughter cows and castrate bulls. Now he was going to community college, where he was asked to draw something from nature. He figured that he might as well eat it too...
The giant Pacific octopus was curled inside a rock piling, both its color and texture altered by camouflage. Mayer judged it to be his size, about six feet, and wondered if he could take it on alone. He lunged at the octopus, grabbing one of its eight arms. It slipped slimily between his fingers, its suckers feeling and tasting his hand. He reached for it again, and again it retreated. Able to squeeze its body through a space as small as a lemon, the octopus was unlikely to succumb to his grip. He poked it with his finger and watched it turn brighter shades of red, until finally, it sprang forward and revealed itself to be a nine-foot wheel charging through the water.
The octopus grabbed Mayer where it could, encircling his thigh, spiraling his torso, its some 1,600 suckers — varying in size from a peppercorn to a pepper mill — latching onto his wet suit and face. It pulled Mayer’s regulator out of his mouth. His adrenaline rising, he punched the creature, and began a wrestling match that would last 25 minutes.
Eventually, he managed to pull the animal to the surface, where a number of divers couldn’t help noticing a teenager punching an 80-pound octopus. As they approached, Mayer freaked out. “Let’s get out of here,” he said, sucker marks ringing his face. “Maybe we shouldn’t have done this.” But it was too late.
I know a little something about GPOs and I know a little something about urban hunting—as well as the fury it can provoke among people who are perfectly happy to eat sushi and wear leather belts but work themselves into a lather when they stumble across someone (especially a nonprofessional) taking a DIY approach.
Another note about the young hunter—he not only had the curiosity and gumption to train for and go on the hunt, he had the guts to show up to the public meeting about his controversial hunt and humbly announce his presence and opinion.
“I was the hunter," the article quotes him as saying. "I did not know that that place was so loved by all the divers, or otherwise I would not have done it... I do agree with how that place should be off limits [to octopus hunting], and it should be clearly posted so that this mistake doesn’t happen again."
He tried something, he learned something, he owned up to the consequences. And the truth about him, his background, and his motivations is so much more nuanced and interesting than the outraged caricatures of him painted on blogs and in comments threads. Read the whole thing here.
Discover Magazine linked to a new study that suggests that no matter what their size, it takes most mammals about 21 seconds to urinate.
Using high-speed fluid dynamics videos and flow-rate measurement at Zoo Atlanta, we discover the “Law of Urination”, which states animals empty their bladders over nearly constant duration of average 21 seconds (standard deviation 13 seconds), despite a difference in bladder volume from 100 mL to 100 L. This feat is made possible by the increasing urethra length of large animals which amplifies gravitational force and flow rate.
If you're into that kind of thing, here's video proof. (NSFW, if slow-motion animal peeing is not allowed at your workplace for some weird reason.)
How many people did not even bother reading the entirety of my feature about the shutdown this week before commenting on it? Roll call!
Orangutans are not found in Vietnam. Just cause a dunk tells you a story doesn't mean it's true.
Posted by he has also has a bridge to sell you on October 9, 2013 at 5:07 PM
You'll believe anything Paul... there are no orangutans in Vietnam!
Posted by Use that health insurance to get your head checked on October 10, 2013 at 7:18 AM
@8 beat me to it. Hate to piss on your parade, but last I checked Borneo and Sumatra weren't in Vietnam.
Posted by carnivorous chicken on October 10, 2013 at 7:31 AM
Great piece,but have one bit from having spent a year in Vietnam like "James," I never saw any wild orangutangs while in Vietnam. The Wiki confirms that - they are only in Indonesia. Still, great article.
Posted by weejee on October 10, 2013 at 8:57 AM
Hey, good writing, but apocryphal gorilla story. Repeated often with different animals. See: Where the Red Fern Grows + raccoons.
Posted by Milton on October 10, 2013 at 1:23 PM
If you don't know what this is all about, go read (at least the first four paragraphs of) my feature.
There's this story I heard once from a homeless veteran I'll call James. He had a pinched face and a smoky voice and huge, square glasses and the kind of wicked alcoholism that accelerated from zero to knife-fight in about half a sip of beer. I was working the night shift in a coffee shop, and James, who at the time was sober and taking a computer programming class, was keeping me company. He told me about this thing he used to do, back in Vietnam.
On those days when he didn't have to be anywhere, James would go out into the jungle. His friends used to go into town to pick up some prostitutes, but James was in one of his religious phases, and so he didn't tag along. Instead, he'd hollow out a coconut, put his gold watch inside of it, and leave it on the jungle floor. Then he'd go hide, and wait. If he was lucky, an orangutan would come along and notice the watch gleaming inside the coconut. It would reach inside to see what the shiny thing was. James would fashion the hole in such a way that an open hand could get into the coconut, but a closed fist was too big to get out. The orangutan couldn't figure this out, and it didn't want to let go of the shiny thing, so its hand would be stuck inside.
James clearly loved telling the story, and I loved it, too: It seemed to have so many meanings. If we're the orangutan in the story, we don't understand that the simple solution to our predicament would be obvious if we could just let go of the thing we want. If we're James in the story, we're unknowingly acting out the cruelty and the pointlessness of the Vietnam War on a tiny scale, for recreation, even as the larger war is playing out all around us. I've been thinking a lot about James's story since the government shut down on October 1. I'll tell you why in a minute. But first, I want to talk about the internet.
The internet is an engine powered by outrage...
I went a couple weekends ago. It's a sanctuary in Tenino Washington, and it is excellent. Read more here. The guided walking tour is a must because you learn so much about each individual wolf. Many of them are rescued from being chained up, and nearly dead. They're having a fundraiser this weekend. And/or you can adopt a wolf, any ole day of the week. My friend, photographer Annie Musselman, has a beautiful series of photos of them on her website. A few more of my own, less beautiful photos after the jump...
This is the first thing so far (other than scarves) that makes me look forward to this dark winter:
Have any of you not had the joy of watching Isbella Rossellini's Green Porno series of paper-cutout animal sex documentary shorts? It is among the best treasures you could ever feed your eyeballs. You can watch many of the fish ones here. I put bee sex after the jump for you ("It would get stuck in her vagina like a cork in a bottle...").
If you have watched Green Porno and love it like you should, tickets and further description are here.
People with dogs are going into grocery stores here in Seattle. All the owners of the stores can do is to ask if the dog is a service animal and the dog owner can lie and say yes.I have seen a dog defecating in the Harvard QFC. It happened like this: The dog suddenly crapped and then planted its sore or itchy ass on the smooth floor. The owner did not try to clean the mess but decided to get away from it by pulling the sitting dog's leash. As he pulled, the dog slowly moved; as the dog slowly moved, its crappy ass marked the floor. All I wanted that day was a sandwich.
I have seen dogs in shopping carts (at the Capitol Hill QFC), defecating on the floor, fighting with other dogs and more recently fornicating, yes, fornicating while the dog owners stood by chatting.
This concerns me as I literally almost died from an animal allergy. Spent eleven days in the trauma ward at Harborview. The firemen called the hospital to see if I had survived.
Tip for this post came from Jenny Fillius.
This story is actually last week's news, but it's the best headline I've seen today: "Pit bull owner tried to make dogs get along by fighting, police say."
What could possibly go wrong?
Will Maru mentor this young one in the way of boxes?
I'm on the animal beat today, apparently.
E.B. White's dog was named Daisy. If you have doubts about reading a dog's obituary, posted by Maria Popova on Brain Pickings, you might consider having someone you love read this aloud to you when you need cheering up.
Daisy died young. Throughout her life, in certain matters, "her point of view was questionable."
(Thanks be to David Grann.)
This Wait But Why post is a sometimes disturbing, many-splendored journey through the misleading and devious world of bunnies.
One particular bunny photo is accompanied by the indignant caption: "Your mom in the 70's. Just really not clear why a bunny would look like that."
Dog bites are a dangerous hazard for young Alaska children, state public health officials say.The boy was bitten to death by a "husky mix."
Sunday's death [which happened in an Arctic town] is the fifth time a canine has killed a child in the past decade in Alaska, according to the state Bureau of Vital Statistics.
The childhood of Carole Triem, my Alaskan tipper and a student of economics, somehow managed to escape this deadly danger:
The Alaska Trauma Registry, which tracks serious injuries, recorded an average of 23 dog bites per year for the past five years
This miniature marvel is an adolescent issus, a kind of planthopper insect and one of the fastest accelerators in the animal kingdom. As a duo of researchers in the U.K. report today in the journal Science, the issus also the first living creature ever discovered to sport a functioning gear.
You have to go to Popular Mechanics to get a look at the "scanning electron micrograph image" of the gear. It's kind of wonderful.
That poor frog never knew what hit it.
Slog reader Paul Forgey took issue with the Seattlish post I linked to about bedbugs. My intent was to stave off anti-thrift-shop sentiment. Thrift stores are important resources for a lot of people in Seattle—while a lot of Slog commenters love to complain about the smell in Value Villages, it's important to remember that many families simply couldn't afford the essentials without second-hand stores. But Forgey wants you to know that bedbugs are a real thing, and I want to share his story with you:
I appreciate the defense of thrift stores, and in fact I shop at them too despite my experience having bedbugs exterminated. There are certain thrift store items I simply don't buy because it isn't worth the risk. Any clothing I buy must be able to survive a trip though the dryer on high heat.
People just need to realistically know the risks. It isn't a trivial thing to get rid of an infestation, and most of the tips offered by Seattleish simply aren't effective.
On one hand, if you don't react at all to bedbug bites and live in a single family home, then knock yourself out. On the other, it's extremely irresponsible if you live in an apartment building, especially ones of older construction which give the bugs lots of places to hide and migrate between units.
My infestation came via a loaned book from a friend's apartment unit whose neighbor turned out to have a very bad infestation. Many residents of the building had to throw out a lot of their personal belongings. They had to put books and art pieces put in long term storage. There were multiple treatments requiring the residents to move all of their belongings around and not be in their units. Regular dog inspections followed for two years after that, and during these inspections residents again had to have all their furniture and belongings moved around to accommodate the dogs.
In my own home, my treatment involved having to practically pack all of my stuff or move it around, including heavy furniture, books, bookshelves, etc. The treatments and dog inspections totaled thousands of dollars (not counting the damage and cost incurred by the first exterminator who turned out to be incompetent, but that's another story).
It's like sex. You need to be educated on what the risks are, what precautions reduce which of the risks you are willing to take, and how much risk you expose others. The tips offered by Seattleish defending thrift stores are like people who don't wear condoms thinking they can wish away the risk. And that puts everyone at risk.
Thank you to Paul Forgey for sending this along. I'm sorry if I came across as diminishing the risk of bedbugs. As Forgey writes, I think the key, here, is situational awareness, not swearing off thrift shops entirely. For good information about bed bugs, you should also visit King County's informational page and of course Brendan Kiley's wonderful feature about bedbugs from a few years back.
Tularemia is an infectious disease carried by rabbits and rodents and is normally transmitted to humans via tick bites or through infection via hunting activities—handling and skinning wild rabbits, for example, can be a high-risk activity. Tularemia is "virulent," fast-acting (though not usually lethal), and has also been toyed with as a biological weapon.
In 2000, cases of tularemia spiked on Martha's Vineyard. So what did the disease detectives at the CDC do? Packed their suitcases, put on their fedoras and hazmat suits, and got to work. This 2001 report from the New England Journal of Medicine (by doctors Bela T. Matyas, Katherine A. Feldman, Donna Stiles-Enos, David T. Dennis, and several others) relates some delightfully bizarre scenes in delightfully austere language. Try to visualize these moments, as if you were directing the film version:
F. tularensis was cultured from blood and lung tissue of a 43-year-old man who died of primary pneumonic tularemia. He delayed seeking medical care for his illness, which began within one week after he mowed a lawn...
We visited the suspected site of exposure of each patient and the 1978 outbreak site. At three sites we recreated possible activities that led to exposure, such as mowing the lawn and cutting weeds (“weed whacking”), and collected air samples using personal air samplers attached to the lawn mower and to the person who used the mowing equipment. Investigators wore protective gear while performing these activities. Samples of grass clippings, water, and soil were also collected. Small mammals were trapped at five properties, and we obtained serum samples from all dogs that lived at suspected sites of exposure. Samples of mammal tissue were examined by direct-fluorescence antibody staining, and mammal serum was tested for antibodies with use of an agglutination assay. Samples of air, grass, water, soil, and animal tissue were cultured for F. tularensis.
Cultures of three lawn-mower filters, 15 samples of cut grass, 11 air samples, 3 samples of raw water, and 9 samples of soil and mulch were all negative for F. tularensis.
Imagine the romances, disagreements, and dramas that might unfold during this strange CDC investigation of a strangely stratified community—Martha's Vineyard is synonymous with wealth, but most of its year-round residents earn 30 percent less than the state average and many of the afflicted in this epidemic weren't homeowners but groundskeepers.