Tag Archives: economy

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

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

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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Invasive Species/ Critical Habitat Alert

La Liseuse, by Fragonard, depicts the romance between book and reader.

La Liseuse, by Fragonard, depicts the romance between book and reader.

Will libraries, which have been sanctuary to books (libri) since they evolved on earth, slowly be replaced with  genus “kindle,” bloodless, soulless creatures of invention? Will paper and cloth-bound books themselves be replaced? Some laud the efficiency and convenience of this new species, which is designed to fulfil books’ roles in the intellectual end entertainment ecosystems, while others are skeptical as to whether these markedly uncuddly gizmos can replace the book as a member of the family, and, more ominously,  whether these  “kindles” might in fact reverse  the democratizing effects of the printing press.

Where books used to roam free, the Kindle, a devious invention, threatens to destroy their habitat

While books used to roam free in home libraries, the Kindle threatens to destroy their habitat

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Breaking News: latest addition to list of endangered species

Shall we sing a requiem for a dying breed? Genus Newspaperus Printae , which long sat at the top of the media food chain, has been in a state of gradual decline for the last decade. The situation is now critical, as the genus has been dealt a resounding blow by the pending extinction of several of its prominent species. California and Colorado are, thus far, the habitats  in greatest danger of losing their representative species. Conservationsists wonder, is it too late to save the Newspapers? And if it is, with what shall we line our birdcages? 

 

The Chronicle, first published in 1865, is unlikely to recover.

The Chronicle, first published in 1865, is unlikely to recover.

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Filed under academia, endangered species, extinct species, Phobia-inducing, Uncategorized

Rabbits and Hares

Given the size of this creature, one might ask exactly how it would be possible to get a wild hair up one's posterior. Given the state of today's economy, hoever, it is clear that many in the public eye suffer from just such an affliction.

Given the size of this creature, one might ask exactly how it would be possible to get a wild hare up one's posterior. Given the state of today's economy, however, it is clear that many in the public eye suffer from just such an affliction.

Rabbits and hares are among the most semantically complex of all mammals. Although the terms “rabbit” and “hare” are used interchangeably in colloquial speech, they are actually two distinct species, according to zoologists.  Both are shamelessly promiscuous, which explains the colorful colloquialism  “F***ing like bunnies.” The jury is out on whether the correct phrase is “having a wild hare” or “a wild hair”  up one’s a**, though both are sure to be wildly uncomfortable. Irish folklore associates hares with witchcraft, while English traditions focus on the propensity for mental pathologies during the mating season of family leporidae, hence the phrase “mad as a march hare.” 

Recently, however, some linguists have suggested that the phrase “mad as a march hare” did not enter common usage until the inception of a basketball tournament founded by Kansas coach Phog Allen in 1939. If this is true, then the phrase is likely a creative amalgam of  the mating/tournament season, and the fact that like wild hares in rut, basketball fans are  (often literally) “hopping mad” throughout the tournament season. Seriously. If you have never witnessed this phenomenon firsthand, I have the numbers of several basketballs fans who would be happy to demonstrate.

 

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Weasels: Genus Mustela

Weasels have long been pervasive on earth- often reviled as thieves, there are weasels on every continent in the world. Certain members of genus mustela reportedly perform the “mesmerizing weasel war dance” after fighting or stealing food.* Members of this genus are known as tricky, opportunistic, and extremely flexible, characteristics which contributed to the colloquial terms “weaseling out of” punishment, or of something one finds particularly onerous, and “weasel words,”   vague language that belies unrelliable and/or unverifiable information**  

Least Weasel (mustela nivalis)

Least Weasel (mustela nivalis)

 

Long-Tailed Weasel (mustela frenata)

Long-Tailed Weasel (mustela frenata)

Dirty Rotten Weasel (Mustela Berni Madoff)

Dirty Rotten Weasel (Mustela Berni Madoff)

 

* For more information, see http://www.nationmaster.com/encyclopedia/Weasel-war-dance

**http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/weasel+out;  http://www.weaselwords.com.au/index3.htm

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

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