Tag Archives: writing

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

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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Filed under exceedingly cute, human behavior, Uncategorized

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

“The Cock is a Bird that Can Tell Time”

 

Copyright: Museum Meermanno, MMW, 10 B 25, Folio 36v

You cannot blame the author for the sheer volume of noteworthy cocks in the world. She is perfectly aware that she has already written about the Cock of Dawn, but that was from the Chinese tradition, and the author reserves the right to differentiate between Chinese and Roman cocks. Ahem. In any case, were you to blame anyone for the next double entendre, dear readers, it would have to be Pliny the Elder, who writes that cocks “were designed by nature to announce the dawn; by singing they awaken men.” Indeed.

They are also, he avers, quite the little oracles: omens and auspices can be read in the behavior of cocks. Indeed. The author once knew a man who swore he could predict the weather with his. True story.

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Filed under folklore, gender bending, human behavior, medieval, rated NC17

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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Filed under human behavior, marine life