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Posts Tagged ‘animals’

In the late Oughts, while we were building our house in Oklahoma, I received a phone call from a scientist who worked in wildlife conservation for the state.  He explained that a gas pipeline was going through our neighbors’ land; I already knew this because I had previously rejected the company’s offer to put it through mine, because the amount of compensation was inadequate to make up for having a 12-meter-wide path of destruction cut through my property.  The size of the right-of-way was the reason for the call; it seems our part of the state was one of the most important habitats for an endangered species of giant burying beetle, and this scientists’ job was to put out bait to draw the beetles out of the construction zone.  What he wanted was permission to come onto my land to throw out chicken leg quarters so as to attract the beetles, which bury small carrion (such as dead birds and squirrels) to lay their eggs in so the larvae have a food source.  I readily agreed, not merely because it was interesting, but also because I figured the more endangered species on my property, the more protection I’d have against gas companies trying to force their way in.  He didn’t have much luck with the bait, but mere hours after his final visit I happened to look down into the hollow where our water cutoff valve lay and saw a dozen of the critters, apparently unable to crawl or fly out of the piece of PVC pipe that kept the sides of the hole from collapsing.  So I dutifully called him to report them; I told him I wasn’t afraid to touch them, and could take them out one by one if he wanted.  He explained that since they were endangered, it was illegal for me to even touch them, and he asked me to put in a small slat of wood so they could crawl out (which they quickly did, each spreading its wings and flying off when it reached the top of the stick).

I thought about this last week because I saw a conversation on Twitter about the Fermi Paradox, with the participants expressing their opinions for why we’ve never seen any evidence of extraterrestrial civilizations.  One not-unusual suggestion is that some authority (a galactic empire or whatever) has declared us off-limits to contact, but that generally raises the objection that it’s egotistical for us to believe we’re worthy of that kind of protection.  But if intelligent aliens are at all like us, that might not matter.  Now, I’m not talking about a Star Trek-type situation in which most civilizations look like humans in makeup and everybody is of roughly the same general level of technology; I’m not even proposing a species like the one in my story “Millennium“, whose attitude toward less-advanced races is…let’s just say far too human-like for comfort.  All I’m suggesting is that if intelligence is rare, advanced spacefaring civilizations might consider all of it valuable, and could conceivably think of any intelligent species confined to a single habitat as “endangered”.  Most Oklahomans have probably never even noticed burying beetles, and few of those who know about them probably give a damn whether they go extinct or not; however, our governments have established laws to protect all endangered species, no matter how insignificant or unpopular to the general public.  They are, in fact, willing to expend considerable effort and resources to protecting such species, regardless of whether those species are relatively interesting or important in any way.  In other words, it might not be at all egotistical to imagine humans as a “protected species” to an advanced extraterrestrial civilization; they may not care about us specifically, but rather their own principles.  In other words, they may treat all young civilizations that way, even those they perceive as creepy little carrion-eating insects.

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Please don’t kill me. Please don’t kill me.  –  Angelo Quinto, last words

Some weeks I find a video worth sharing in the same way as I find other links, and some weeks I have to turn one up by myself.  Most weeks the videos are fairly substantial, but occasionally they’re just little moments like this very funny one contributed by Emma Evans, who also provided “what they are”.  The other links above the video are from Cop Crisis, Radley Balko (x2), Popehat, and Mark Bennett, in that order.

From the Archives

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Diary #556

When Annie first arrived, it took her a while to fit in; Trip would crowd her away from the food, and since there were no cats at Winnie’s she wasn’t quite sure what to make of them.  And cats being cats, they took advantage of her uncertainty.  Not Aeryn, of course; she’ll be 19 in a few weeks so she is unimpressed by anything or anybody (including strangers and vacuum cleaners) and everyone knows better than to fuck with her despite her tiny size (note they give her the choice spot where the heating pad is).  But Spec wanted nothing to do with her, and neither did Chekhov’s cat Coco or the barn cat, Rocky; for a few weeks after she arrived, they’d hiss at her every time they saw her, and she started barking in reply.  But that soon stopped, and Spec slowly warmed up to her (they don’t cuddle yet, but I’ve seen them closer together than they are in this photo).  Coco now lives in Chekhov’s cottage, and even though Rocky still swats at her whenever she passes him, it seems a bit perfunctory now, as though he were merely doing it on principle.  As for the humans (including me), we’ve really become quite fond of her; at first I was just taking her as a favor to Winnie, but I quickly learned what an intelligent, affectionate animal she is.  She’s also an exceptional communicator; her tail displays her feelings perfectly, and she’s also good at responding to commands and attracting my attention when she wants something.  And in the evening, she likes to curl up next to me when I watch TV (in the spot occupied by Aeryn in this shot) while stoned.

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I think someone stole my chicken.  –  Thomas Ramsey

This week’s video is probably the best-known composition by jazz great Chick Corea, who died late last week.  The links above it were provided by Tracy Quan, Radley Balko, Dan Savage, Mike Siegel, Radley again, Amy Alkon, and Cop Crisis, in that order.

From the Archives

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I can’t breathe.  –  Rilee Peet

Mary Wilson of the Supremes died last week; I’ve selected this TV video from 1969 because it begins with a solo by her.  The links above it were provided by Radley Balko, The H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society, Elizabeth N. Brown, Nun Ya, Mike Siegel, and Jesse Walker, in that order.

From the Archives

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Diary #554

Why do cats dislike having their picture taken while doing something cute? Every time I see one of our cats doing something that would make an interesting picture, by the time I grab my phone and point, they’re already doing something else.  Case in point Rocky, our barn cat; he showed up practically as soon as we started moving things in, and quickly decided Sunset was his territory.  Grace and Chekhov named him “Rocky” because one of his eyes was swollen shut and they presumed he had lost it in a fight, but when they took him to the vet it turned out to only be a severe case of conjunctivitis, which we took care of (I think “Popeye” would’ve been a better name, but he’d already been named by the time I knew he even existed, so there you are).  Anyhow, the other day I found him perching regally atop this post (which will be part of the railing once we get to that point), but no sooner did I grab my phone from my jacket pocket than he crouched down and…well, see for yourself.  He’s a good mouser; despite Chekhov feeding him far too often, he often leaves little presents by the front door, and he also keeps away the black-and-white cat which I sometimes see skulking around the chicken coop and barn.  I’m not sure whether I’m going to allow him bathhouse privileges once the walls go up; we plan to allow the indoor cats out there, and I don’t want a territorial cat with claws and a bladder near my furniture.  But I guess I’ll figure it out when we reach that point, probably this summer.  And just in case you’re concerned about him being outside in the cold, I can assure you that A) it doesn’t actually get that cold here, though a light freeze is predicted every night this week and we expect snow on Thursday; B) he’s incredibly fluffy, and about half of his visible bulk is fur; C) he knows how to get into the shop; and D) Grace made him a hutch which sits by the back door and contains a pad that automatically turns on when he sits on it.  Yet despite C and D, he can usually be found sitting by the front door; I guess curiosity outweighs warmth unless it’s really nasty outside.  And he eventually even learned that no matter how cute he looks, I’m not letting him in.

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You’re acting like a child.  –  unnamed cop to 9-year-old

So I’ve been doing a “video of the day” thing on Twitter, and realized I’ve never featured my favorite Ozzy song, so here it is.  Would it help if I told you I used to strip to this?  The links above it were provided by Emma Evans; Cop Crisis; Stephen Lemons; Mama Tush and Franklin Harris; Cop Crisis again; and Jesse Walker, in that order.

From the Archives

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If the mayor defunds the police, I’m going to shoot her.
–  “Officer” Steve Poulos

This week’s video was tweeted by J. Michael Straczynski, the creator of Babylon 5, as a farewell to Mira Furlan (“Delenn”); I think it speaks for itself.  The links above it were provided by Mistress Matisse, Sola Love, Phoenix Calida, Franklin Harris, Radley Balko, Amy Alkon, and Gustavo Turner, in that order.

From the Archives

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I can’t breathe.  –  Cindy Falco DiCorrado

I was recently reminded of this December 1972 bit from Sesame Street, which manages to be extremely funny despite being totally sweet and wholesome.  The links above it were provided by Popehat, Dave Krueger, Jesse Walker, Phoenix Calida, Franklin Harris, Rick Horowitz, and Dave Crisp, in that order.

From the Archives

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Diary #551

Since Sunset is very near an actual rain forest, we’re used to seeing a great deal of rain, especially in the winter.  But this year the rain went on for much longer and harder than expected until we finally got a respite starting Thursday afternoon.  We’d been feeding the animals in the barn since the rain started, so I took advantage of the break to feed them in the normal outdoor spots.  But Orville didn’t show when I called him, so the next morning I went to the barn to check on him and found the poor beast actually stuck in a hollow in the dirt floor he’d made into a nest.  He was squealing pitifully, clearly unable to get up, so I had to get behind him and push; that allowed him to get unstuck, but his left hind leg appeared to be “asleep” because he was very unsteady on his feet and kept almost toppling over.  But Chekhov and I kept watch on him for a while, and within an hour he was moving around much more normally.  He’s obviously a bit constipated, though, probably from being unable to move overnight, and I couldn’t get him to eat anything until Sunday morning, when he eagerly devoured half of a bagged salad Grace suggested I try on him.  He ambled about pretty well for a while, and sunned himself (lying on the opposite side) for most of the afternoon, as you can see.  So I had Chekhov pick up several of the bagged salads (on sale!), and he devoured them; I suspect he was instinctively seeking vegetables to clear up his issue, and it seems to have worked because he was making his usual rounds yesterday, even coming to the porch to beg for peanuts.  But if dealing with a constipated pig isn’t the perfect example of what #TheSexyNeverStops hashtag is for, I’ll be damned if I know what is.

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