Tag Archives: economics

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

Banker Invests in Duckling Futures.

Joel Armstrong , a 43-year-old banker in Washington state, had been been watching a mother duck  nest on a ledge outside his office window for  35 days, so he was not surprised to see them when he got to town on saturday for the city’s annual Lilac festival. 

He was, however, surprised to see two of the little yellow bundles launch themselves from their preciptous perch.  The mother duck, who stood watching at ground level, might have anticipated the worst– had Armstrong not stepped up to the plate.  

Because Armstrong  channeled his inner A-Rod by rushing to the scene, fielding each fuzzy yellow pop-fly handily as they launched themselves into the air and hurtled towards the ground.

Emboldened by their fellows’ good fortune, four more hatchlings followed suit. Armstrong’s catching arm was strong: he lowered each one safely to the impatient mother duck, who seemed to approve of Armstrong’s technique. (Armstrong ultimately had to use a ladder to retrieve the final two ducklings, who were more risk-averse, or less enthsiastic baseball fans, than were their brothers and sisters.)   

 Finally the mother duck and Armstrong, task completed, led the ducklings, side by side, down two blocks of the parade route to the Spokane river, hearkening to the resounding cheers of the approving parade-goers who lined both sides of the street, providing witness to Armstrong’s infield skills- neglected since grade school, but the best investment this banker ever made.  

(the link below is to video of the event)

http://abcnews.go.com/video/playerIndex?id=7618021

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Filed under baby animals, exceedingly cute, human behavior, the strange and the beautiful, Uncategorized

Money Might Not, But Barnacle Geese Do (grow on trees)

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 Source: British Library Images Online Copyright Copyright 2004 British Library / Used by permission Manuscript description British Library, Harley MS 4751, Folio 36r

What medieval-inspired bestiary would be complete without the Barnacle Goose?  According to Sir John Mandeville, who wrote in the 14th century CE, this fantastic creature is–or was– a species of goose that grows on trees. Not in trees, mind you. On trees.

In his Travels, Sir John writes that

 I told them of as great a marvel to them, that is amongst us, and that was of the Bernakes. For I told them that in our country were trees that bear a fruit that become birds flying, and those that fell in the water live, and they that fall on the earth die anon, and they be right good to man’s meat. And hereof had they as great marvel, that some of them trowed it were an impossible thing to be.

We moderns might be inclined to trow it impossible, too. Yet is it possible that the barnacle goose finds its equivalent in recent college graduates, who find themselves suddenly adrift of the parental money tree, and must function on their own or perish?  Indeed, the author sees many subtle similarities. Barnacle goslings grow on trees that overhang bodies of water; the young birds hang from their sprouting-points by their beaks.  When the birds are “ripe,” they fall. The fortuitous ones, which fall into the water, float and find themselves well on their way to healthy, productive adult lives. But those that fall on land– or go to graduate school– face a harder fate. Some die. The 14th century besties apparently all died, as there simply aren’t many tree-growing geese running about these days.

Yet today’s hapless little geese, who unerringly choose graduate studies in something “esoteric” like “Medieval English” or “Philosphy,” may in fact return to the life-giving tree well into adulthood, until the tree at long last shouts:

“Enough already! how long does a dissertation TAKE, anyway?

sigh.

take it from the author of BV, dear readers. major in something useful, like billiards, or graft.

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Filed under academia, baby animals, extinct species, folklore, human behavior, medieval, parasites, Phobia-inducing, the strange and the beautiful, Uncategorized

Humanatee: A dying breed

seen here without a school, this humanatee may never find a home

The humanatee is an ancient, intelligent beast, most often found in large “schools,” though members of far-flung schools frequently gather together in large, gregarious groups called “conferences.” During these  sporadic expeditions, humanatees may demonstrate dominance by flashing the “TT” position. These strange creatures then show off to potential mates by uttering strange, unintelligible  sounds in rapid succession.

Infighting and promiscuous behavior is not uncommon in conferences.

But dear readers, the humanatee, contrary to appearances, is not its own worst enemy. The humanatee is among our worlds most endangered species, and though abundant, is seriously threatened by the rough economic waters currently plaguing our shores and those the world over. Worse, funding for conservation programs has recently been cut dramatically, leading some experts to wonders whether there is adequate habitat  in today’s academe for the humanatees.*

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Filed under academia, endangered species, exceedingly cute, human behavior, marine life, Phobia-inducing, the strange and the beautiful, Uncategorized

Yeti Crab; merchandising goldmine?

a fuzzy mollusk?

fuzzy wuzzy was a... crustacean?

In 2006, a group of marine biologists announced that they had discovered a new species of deep-sea crab; the so-called “yeti crab,” named for the abominable snowman of the Himalayas, earned its nickname because it sports legs covered with long, yellow hairs. 

Other preliminary nomenclature for Kiwa hirsuta included “Paris Crab” and  “Trump Lobster” but these names were speedily discarded after telegrams from said celebrities’ legal representation. Apparently, the association of their clients’ names with crabs was not desirable.

So, you might ask…what use do the Crabs have for such silky locks if they are not looking to become America’s next favorite reality T.V. star? The team that discovered the crabs saw them waving their hairy claws back and forth over warm hydrothermal vents, which led to massive bacterial colonies in their hairy appendages. The team speculates that the crabs might be intenionally cultivating the bacteria as a food source. 

While scientists were quick to deliver this bit of scientific trivia to the aforementioned legal representation, the fact does not appear to have made the yeti crabs any more appealing a mascot.  

The hairclub for men, however, having experienced a drop-off in sales due to the recent economic downturn, has recently entered negotiation with the scientists involved in studying these crabs. Speculation amongst those “in the know” is that they plan to utilize the yeti crab much the same way as Geico (tm) has used the talking gecko.  In exchange for merchandising rights, the hairclub will provide funding for further scientific studies.

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Filed under exceedingly cute, marine life, the strange and the beautiful, Uncategorized

Purse Dogs

A prime specimen of purse dog.

A prime specimen of purse dog.

The purse dog is not a species unto itself; rather, it represents a human intervention in animal behavior. Purse dogs have rapidly adapted to their owners’ whims: many have developed hermit crab-like behaviors, and emerge from their shells only when they outgrow them, or to find a new portable home, or one with more “bling.”  Purse dogs are disproportionately popular amongst girls with names that end in “Y.”

Those unfamiliar with purse dogs can often be heard wondering whether the tiny dogs’  tiny legs atrophy from lack of use, and where the tiny dogs evacuate their tiny bladders. Indeed, the purse’s interior must be exceptionally piquant after long trips to the mall, where purse dogs can often be found.

Pursedogs are not entirely a laughing matter, however; these dogs are often raised in puppy mills, by breeders that prize tiny-ness over health. These dogs often have difficulties in gestation and delivery, and “oversize” dogs are cast aside, left to live in substandard conditions. Those interested in protesting the abhorrent practices of puppymill breeders can find links to specialized advocacy groups  and information on how others have staged protests, below.

http://www.puppymillprotest.org/
http://www.prisonersofgreed.org/actions.html
http://www.ehow.com/how_2150779_organiz
e-puppy-mill-pet-store-protest.html

http://www.youtube.com/ProtestPuppyMills

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Filed under common household pets, endangered species, Phobia-inducing, Uncategorized

Sloth

Is sloth a) the creature pictured above or b) the author of BV's fatal flaw?

Is Sloth a) the creature pictured above or b) the author of BV's fatal flaw?

 Sloths once lived both on the ground and in trees, but ground sloths, too slow to outmaeuver enemies, are now extinct, leaving only the familiar upside-down tree dwelling variety.* The surviving species belong to families Megalonychidae (two toed sloths) and Bradypodidae (three toed sloths); only one species (Bradypus torquatus) is currently listed as endangered, though the deforestation of South America’s rainforests may spell trouble for the rest as well. 

Tree dwelling sloths have highly specialized adaptations: for instance, sloths’  outer coats grow “upside down.” Typically, a mammal’s outer hairs  grow “downwards,” but sloth hair has adapted to sloth behavior; because they spend a significant percentage of their time ass-over-elbows, their hair grows away from their extremities, providing added protection from the elements in the inverted position, and creating a flattering “fauxhawk” when upright.
 In addition, their long, curved claws allow them to easily hang upside-down from branches, even to eat, sleep, give birth upside down. The sloth’s  “hands” and “feet” are so efficient that sloths sometimes remain hanging from branches after death, even when shot by poachers. This is  adegree of lethargy truly unmatched outside of my own livingroom.

 These animals are slow moving, low in muscle mass for their size, and the stomach of well-fed adult can make up 2/3 of it’s body weight. They are not, in other words, so very different from many of the grad students at major universities, who have likewise adapted coping mechanisms (including slow progress and binge eating)  to compensate for their diminishing habitat, and for the scarceness and unpalatable nature of available resources,  (particularly once they have remained in their doctoral programs past normative time). ** 

 

*Until the arrival of humans on the North and South American continents, they were poplulated with ground sloths, now extinct. Human hunting of these slow-moving targets likely had a large part in their extinction, though the concommitant Ice age probably helped.

Cf. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sloth

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Filed under academia, endangered species, extinct species, the strange and the beautiful, Uncategorized