Tag Archives: current events

Honey Badger: who you calling honey mister?

Don’t make the mistake, dear reader, of judging a badger by its nomiker: this one’s no honey.  Named for their predilection for eating honeycombs pilfered from beehives, Mellivora capensis is also famous as a snake-killer. The honey badger uses its jaws to grab a snake behind its head and kill it, and can devour a snake measuring up to 5 feet in length  in a mere 15 minutes. 15 minutes. Piggy little honey badger.

The badger’s prey is hardly limited to honey and snakes, however. Consider the following list: earthworms, insects, scorpions,  porcupines, hares, ground squirrels, meerkats, mongooses, tortoises, crocodiles up to one metre in size, young gazelle and snakes (including venomous species),  lizards, frogs, small rodents, birds and fruit.  Goodness. (GAZELLE??? CROCODILES???)

National Geographic documentary,  “Snake killers: Honey badgers of the Kalahari”,  documented a badger snatching a meal out of a puff adder‘s mouth, after which he casually ate the purloined prey, and, insatiable, turned to stalk the deadly snake itself. This bold item managed to kill the snake, and even to begin eating it, but having been bitten, collapsed on the dead snake mid-chew. Cameramen were shocked, however, when the badger awoke 2 hours later,  finished his meal and went on his merry way.

Construction workers, take note: watch who you call honey. It may be the last thing you do.

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Filed under academia, human behavior, Phobia-inducing, the strange and the beautiful, Uncategorized

This little fishy went to market

Alright, dear readers, okay. the author has a soapbox to stand on and a bone to pick today: it has to do with fishing ethics and sustainability, and is remarkably un-funny (as opposed to the rest of BV’s posts which are , of course, hi-LAR-ious. ahem) . What does this have to do with the picture above you might ask? well, this photograph was published by the Guardian UK online on Saturday; it depicts a  Somali fisherman hauling his catch to market in Mogadishu.

Quite aside from the sheer visual impact of this photo, with the ruins in the background and  the somewhat blank expression on fisherman’s face, the photo is a visual reminder of the difference between fishing for sustenance–for survival– and for vanity, masking itself as tradition.

Let me backtrack a bit… ah… okay, yes.  Here we go: shark fishing is an important aspect of both commercial and artisanal fishing in Somalia, and studies have not yet shown how dramatically this practice may effect the population of hammerhead, grey, and mako sharks in the area.  Some would like to see even traditional shark fishing banned, in the interest of preservation. Truth be told, the author of BV has not done enough research to say whether she falls into this camp or not.

But she will say this; in comparison to the horrific commercial massacre of sharks that occurred in Somalia in 2008, in which thousands of sharks washed up on shore after having had their fins brutally lopped off by commercial fishermen,  the artisanal practice of going to sea in small outboard-motorized vessels, and hand-carrying one’s catch to market, at least seems to even the playing field a bit.  Would you want to trade places with this man? No. I she a damned sight more respectable than the consumers who like to consume shark fins because.. oh, why was that again? oh, yes, because it helps float their peckers and demonstrates their wealth?

The answer, dear readers, is YES.

Further reading: A grassroots organization in Hong-Kong Boycotts the traditional banquet dish of shark fin soup. HUZZAH for grassroots advocacy.

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Filed under animal imagery, human behavior, marine life, politics, Uncategorized

Lonomia obliqua caterpillar: prickly little beast

In the rainforests of South America lives a fragile and lovely caterpillar–lonomia obliqua— that will kill you if you let it. Be warned, dear readers, that they are often found–or rather, go unnoticed– on the bark of trees, which provides perfect  camouflage for the nasty, homicidal little  lepidoptera.

There they lurk in unassuming wait for travelers to lean against their trees, and to unknowingly brush against one of their numbers. Scientists will tell you that the powerful anticoagulant venom is a defensive mechanism, but the author of BV knows different. Lean in close to your screen, now: they are in league with evil forces and poise dto take over the world. It’s all very hush hush.

Ahem. On a practical note, symptoms of Lonomia obliqua poisoning include “severe internal bleeding, renal failure and hemolysis.”  A lethal dose of the toxin is minuscule, among the lowest of all known toxins. Brush against two of these villains and you’re meat.

To wit: though the lonomia family is responsible for only .1 % fewer toxin-related deaths than are rattlesnake bites,  should you be injected by the caterpillar, it would only take one one-thousandth volume of venom (versus the average snakebite) to do its work. One shudders to think.

So dear readers, should you find yourself in a Brazilian rainforest, mind the trees, forget the snakes, and beware the caterpillars.

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Filed under Phobia-inducing, the insect world, the strange and the beautiful, tiny animals, Uncategorized

Yoga Bear

The author had not intended to post today, but was utterly undone by the following story and simply had to share: Santra, a female brown bear in Finland’s Ahtari Zoo, is apparently the latest adherent to the yoga craze that has been sweeping the globe for the last decade or so  (more if you gew up, as the author did, in the land that the sixties forgot… to leave).

In any case, it was obvious to all in attendance that Santra is well on her way to yogi status as she demonstrated a variety of poses over a fifteen-minute span. Namaste, yoga bear.

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Fried Egg Jellyfish… pass the Tabasco.

Well, this is another post inspired by the Discovery Channel series Life. Unfortunately, Dear Readers, while the Fried Egg jellyfish (Phacellophora camtschatica) is strange and beautiful, it is also singularly boring. Terrible at cocktail parties.  Seriously. Even with the author of BV’s overactive imagination, she could find nothing more fascinating to write about about this behemouth  than the shape that its name implies. Which leaves her with nothing to say but pass the tabasco, and mind the tentacles.

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BV-worthy new exhibit

 

The California Academy of Sciences has long been beloved by the author of BV, figuring in her elementary school field trips, and, more recently, looming large in her consciousness as an example of stunning sustainable architecture. And a friend is employed there, I am proud to say, as a plant taxonomist– though, traitorous wench that she is, she will soon be abandoning us all to pursue a PhD in Chemistry on the east coast.

Pah. stupid PhD in chemistry. Stupid east coast.

In any case, If you would like to see an exact cast of Ida, the  Darwinius masillae that is a distant cousin of all of us today, you can do it at this exhibit. You can also learn about extreme adaptations (neat!) , reproduction (wink wink, nudge nudge) , and extinction (boo!).

Personally, the author of BV is excited to learn that the state fossil of California, Smilodon Fatalis, will be on display. She is also not a little bemused to discover that california *has* a state fossil.

which led the author on a rather amusing little digression into internet research-land, where she discovered the following:

California has the expected emblems, that is, a  state…

BIRD: California Valley Quail
ANIMAL: California Grizzly Bear
TREE: California Redwood

as well as a

 song
 seal
 motto
colors
nickname
flower
and flag (social studies history reports come flooding back to some of us) 

But is also has a state…

FOSSIL: Smilodon Fatalis (sabertooth tiger, see above)
INSECT: California dog-face Butterfly (well, it’s mother thinks it’s beautiful)
FISH: California Golden Trout
MARINE FISH: Garibaldi
MARINE MAMMAL: California Grey whale
REPTILE: the Desert Tortoise

not to mention:

 gemstone
Gold Rush ghost town
 Silver rush ghost town
grass
military museum
mineral
Fife and drum band (very cool)
Prehistoric artifact
rock
soil (SOIL!?!?! we have an official  SOIL. inconceivable)
tall ship
tartan
and theater.

And a poet laureate to write about all of ’em. (Which she doesn’t, at present. She seems to write a lot about love and death and architecture. But that’s a snap judgement)   

Seriously. Don’t believe me about the soil? look here. And expect a California series on BV in the near future.

sick of my rambling and want to read more about the exhibit? Read the articles from SFGATE and/or SFAppeal.

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Filed under academia, endangered species, extinct species, human behavior

Red-Letter Day for Captive Dolphins

Photograph by: Bruce Stotesbury, Times Colonist

 

It is a red-letter day, dear readers. For it was reported today that Chris Porter, infamous dolphin trader working out of the Solomon Islands, plans to release his last 17 captive bottlenose  dolphins to the wild. In a recent interview, Porter admitted that 

“I have a bad name. I have been deemed the Darth Vader of dolphins. But I have decided to release the remaining animals back to the wild. It’s driven by the incident with Tillikum and I’m disillusioned with the industry.” 

From the start, says Porter, he had the best interests of these animals at heart, believing that the animals he captured and trained would act as “embassadors” an aid in educational efforts. But according to an article in the Times ColonistPorter  “is beginning to doubt the value of shows, where animals are forced to perform tricks”…’Are we really educating and providing the best representation of wild animals in an aquarium,'” where the environment is artificial and they are forced to perform tricks? He asked in an interview. 

His own answer is now “no,” and the author of BV thinks it’s about damned time. Should you place the author in a tiny pool and force her to dance for her supper, you can bet this blogger would be dragging you into the depths as well. 

Porter’s former opponents are reserving judgement about his decision– not because they disagree with his sentiment, but because they would like to inspect the animals to ascertain their health and readiness to return to the wild. Porter promises, moreover, to continue to feed any of released dolphins who continue to return for feeding times. 

the trick now, dear readers, is to pray (in whatever form you prefer– the author of BV prefers interpretive dance, usually in the shower, accompanied by current guilty-pleasure pop music) That the locals will embrace the idea of eco-tourism over the practice of hunting dolphins for their teeth… and that Porter’s landmark change of heart will trigger a ripple effect– so to speak– in the hearts and minds of the ocean-going world at large. 

Read more: http://www.timescolonist.com/technology/Darth%20Vader%20dolphins%20release%20bottlenose/2741326/story.html#ixzz0jm54wcyw

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Dissertation Owls Asleep on the Job

Folkes, while the dissertation elves, tiny little owls that creep into grad students’ bedrooms to madly type pages whilst the tortured souls sleep, are on furlough,  I have been working furiously on my thesis. The result? A certain lack of Beastliness. And vocabularity.

This will be remedied shortly, just as soon as the Muse goes on strike again, as she (the fickle bitch) is wont to do.

– sj

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Foxy Loxy Strikes Again: Hide your manolos.

Citizens the German town of Föhren have been in a tizzy for the past year, wondering what kind of sick freak would going around stealing single shoes from their doorsteps in the middle of the night, leaving their mates behind. More than 100 mismatched hiking shoes, Wellingtons, steel-capped workman’s boots, flipflops and smelly old bedroom slippers went missing.

Well, folkes, as it turns out, it’s one shoe-loving vixen (aren’t we all) that has absconded with the missing footwear. Just one shoe at a time mind you, as she has to carry them home in her mouth.  

 Locals have offered two explanations for her kleptomania: either 1) she has been gathering the footwear as toys for her pups, or 2) “She’s clearly got a thing about shoes.” Claro.

This second  option is the opinion of one Rudolf Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt, the local count (a count!!!!), who adds that  “the shoes may well be intended as toys for the cubs because there are bite marks made by little teeth on the shoelaces.” This is very cute. And not at all what one (at least, dear readers, one American with little to no experience with german nobility) would expect a count to be occupying his time with.  But the author of BV has a quibble with Count RRvonK: he is quoted as saying “It’s impressive that she found the time to steal them in addition to getting food.”

Silly man. Today’s liberated, self-sufficient, upwardly-mobile  vixen can work a full-time job, keep a fabulous home, cook herself and her loved ones gourmet meals, and though things like sex and balancing her checkbook may fall by the wayside, she will always, always, always have Time for Shoes.

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Tickle-me Elmo’s friend, the Slow-Loris

 

The author of BV would like to be clear: wild and exotic animals are not pets. They belong in the fields and forests and streams, making nice with other wild and exotic animals. And the Slow Loris, a south/southeast asian primate currently considered threatened/endangered, is no exception. These little charmers, which have long been hunted for their eyes (used in local traditional medicine), deserve a break,  and should NOT be sought and poached, ripped heartlessly from their native lands,  for no reason but our own gratification.

That said… I kinda want one.   

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The Guinea Pig Way

Every so often, one discovers something so simultaneously cute and creepy that one is obliged to  share it with the world. (for teh author of BV, this is a somewhat more frequent occurance).

For once, dear readers, the source of cute and creepy is not a kitty video, but a guinea pig song and dance number (you may have noticed that I am becoming rather inordinately fond of the little buggers). Wonder if the chairman of the board ever did it “the guinea pig way”… No matter, albinoblacksheep has made it happen.

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You’d be Prickly, too

A rare Prickly shark ( Echinorhinus cookei) was recently “found” and displayed at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, quite the coup for the eager grad student type who “found” the shark.

The shark was  “collected” in an area where the Monterey Bay Aquarium Supported research, by the unnamed graduate student (sorry, chum), who was documenting  daily migrations of prickly sharks from the deep waters of the canyon to the shallows of the canyon head where the specimen in question was… “collected” and quickly put on display at the aquarium.  

But as of the writing of this post, the Prickly predator has been returned to the wild, because after a mere 15 hours in captivity, staff scientists at the Monterey Bay aquarium noticed that the shark “appeared too bouyant to swim easily.”

The scientists tagged the prickly (and, apparently, gassy) shark, normally seen only in very deep waters,  before releasing him in waters about 250 ft deep.  They watched him swim off, clearly headed back for the deeper waters of the pacific rim.

Reports have yet to be confirmed, but some witnesses swear that they saw the shark flipping those scientists the bird as he swam out into deeper waters.*  

 

*please note: the author of BV is in favor of any and all humane efforts to learn more about the life in our oceans, and understands that the scientists’ intentions were pure. Nevertheless, she empathizes with the shark, who was kidnapped, stuck in a  tank, made a mini-media spectacle, and sent home all in the span of a day. As the title suggests, after this kind of Wednesday, you’d probably be prickly, too.

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Petaluma Bird Sanctuary Threatened

There is a new asphalt plant planned for a site along the Petaluma River.

GOOD NEWS, right!? Industry, new jobs in a  ravaged marketplace… But, in this case, the costs may be too high.  Because in this case, the proposed development is slated for a site right across from Schollenberger Park, which just happens, dear readers, to be one of the premier bird sanctuaries in North America.  And, you know, sits within spitting distance of a dozen or so parks and schools.   

So when a group of mothers heard that the council was all set to vote on the building permits and zoning changes, and learned about the toxic brew of noxious chemicals for which Asphalt companies are famous, they got a good whiff of something rotten in Denmark and promptly formed themselves into an advocacy group that they dubbed “Moms for Clean Air.”

In a typical gynocolocially inaccurate rhetorical ploy deigned to minimize the credibility of  unruly females, certain critics have called  the Moms “hysterical.” … You tell me, dear readers: Someone has threatened your kids– and your BIRDS, for goodness sake– and you don’t have good cause to be just a wee bit hysterical? Just a wee bit? Or might the emotion these critics are searching for be something closer to “righteous indignation?”

Hysterical, indeed.

In any case, the city and county apparently turned deaf ears on ths Moms’ complaints, so the mothers did what every parent who has been through PTA basic training knows to do. They went over the county’s head. 
At long last, these mobilized mothers  found an advocate in California Assemblyman Jared Huffman, a Democrat from Southern Sonoma who, according to a Chanel 5 report,  “organized the first comprehensive hearing on the issue, bringing together regulators from the EPA, Fish and Game, The Bay Area Air Quality Management District, and other agencies, most of which are just beginning to look at the project.”

The company that wants to the build the plant, The Dutra Group, says that “This is the right plan, and this is the right location.” Shockingly, the spokeswoman who delivered this little pearl of persuasive wisdom is named Dutra. What a coincidence.  

Isn’t it also the funniest coincidence that Dutra’s other asphalt plant has already been cited–multiple times– for environmental violations?

Need more?

In 2001, Marin County Grand Jury accused the company of illegally expanding operations.

In 2006, Dutra was fined $735,000 for dumping sludge near the Farallon Islands.

The Dutra family denies these incidents ever happened. Apparently, they have never heard of a little thing called “public record.”

So far,  only one council member (Zane) has been willing  to publicly announce  opposition  to the asphalt plant. The other four, stalwart souls all, are refusing comment.    But, s hould you have a comment, dear reader, and should you be of the same mind as the author of BV, you may follow the links to the Moms’ site, and tell them that they have your support. You may also follow this link to a PDF of their mission statement.

Go, Moms!

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Filed under backyard fauna, endangered species, human behavior, Uncategorized

Happy Birthday to an Angry Old Canard!

 

Donald Duck is 75 today!

The angry old canard’s full name Donald Fauntleroy Duck, and his official birthady is recognized today to commemorate the release of his debut film, The Wise Little Hen for which, true to the bad luck for which he is famous, he didn’t even get a screen credit.

He was recognized in 1942, however, when he recieved an Oscar for his appearence in the short film Der Fuehrer’s Face in which Donald plays a worker in an artillery factory in “Nutzi Land,” and who can ever forget such classics as “How to have an Accident at Work?”

You can, dear reader? well, shucks. here ya go:

let’s face it, If there is one star on teh walk of fame that the author of Bv can get a real kick out of… it’s the Duck’s.

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A Blog After My Own Heart

The author of BV deos not often direct her (few) readers to read other blogs, lest you intrepid souls desert me for greener fields. One suspects you may be a bit shifty that way. But today is something of an exception.

You see, a friend recently directed my attention to a blog after my own heart. Fuck you, Penguin  is in some ways BV’s doppelganger. BV’s dark and twisty evil twin. The heads to BV’s tails. The yin to BV’s yang. The… well, you get the point.

This clever monkey’s recent headlines include such stunners as:

 “The Marsupial Rampage Continues”

“Baby Flying Squirrels: a mini 9/11 in your hand”

and

Noone wants to hang out with eels

 

While the author writhes a bit in frustration that she didn’t think of the latter headline first, you, dear readers, should take a look, enjoy… but please… come back.

…it gets so lonely here without you.

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