Tuesday Video Lunch: Fishing Bites


While Kristin obsesses over the Florida Python Challange (or “Snake Jihad”,) another insane Florida animal hunt is this week’s Video Lunch.

But before we get to the main course, we need a bit of an appetizer. It is possible that some of our readers are not familiar with noodling. Noodling is a form of fishing, in which the fisherman enters the water and puts his hand into dark holes and other likely hideouts for catfish. The catfish bites the intruding hand, either because it is pissed off or hungry, and then it becomes a battle of strength and will to decide whether the fish is caught or escapes. Sure, sometimes there are snapping turtles or snakes in those holes, but only sissies shy away from thrusting their limbs into the murky unknown. These women are not afraid:

So that’s noodling. Get in the water, shove your hand where it might get bit, and get ready for a fight. Just a few points about noodling before we proceed to the actual story for today:
1. Shirts are optional.
2. Country music is not optional.
3. The ladies in that video seem to have pet deer; this is also optional although not advisable since at least a few men have been gored to death by their pet deer.

In Florida, one of the few states where noodling is legal, some guy has decided to take things up a level. First, he isn’t keen on getting wet, so he just lies on the dock. Second, instead of going after catfish, he takes on tarpon. Tarpon is an interesting choice because they can get to be 8 feet long and 280 pounds and they are prized as game fish because they put up a fight like a sleepy child at bedtime. (If you’ve never been a babysitter, you may be surprised to know that it is the sleepy children who are most insistent that they don’t want to go to bed, but it is true.)

What!? After all that wrestlin’ he let it get away? I bet he doesn’t even have a pet deer!

From The Sun

Python Challenge 2013: Snake Jihad, Snakepocalypse Vid


 

Of the 400 people who have signed up for the challenge that start tomorrow, this is the guy I know will not succumb to unpreparedness.

I predict this guy will murderhouse at least 5,000 snakes by the end of this weekend. Most of them likely to be Burmese pythons.

How many weapons does one man need? All of them.

Tuesday Video Lunch: Calling All Turkeys (and Perverts)


After Kristin posted that video about turkeys last week, I got hungry. Hungry for some Video Lunch!

Turkey is on the menu again this week. But since we haven’t got a turkey to eat, we need to call one in. While we are at it, we’d like to call in some internet perverts to read our blog. (As we have noted on several occasions, perverts make up the bulk of our search engine traffic.) Luckily, there a San Diego news team has made a helpful “how to” video for attracting male turkeys and internet perverts at the same time:

Tabloid Thursday: Is the Easter Bunny Actually The Missing Link?


Tabloid Thursday!? We should call it Totally Legitimate Science Thursday! Weekly World News reported on Tuesday that new research indicates humans evolved from rabbits. They even have the sophisticated diagrams to prove it:

Actually, that third one kind of looks like a satyr. Could it be that the ancient Greeks had found proto-human rabbit-man fossils and created a mythological creature around what they didn’t understand? It wouldn’t have been the first time they made such a mistake.

"'Elephant'? Never heard of such a thing (since I live in Ancient Greece.) That, my good man, is clearly a cyclops skull. Also, why would I refer to my own time-period as 'Ancient'?"

But back to our present topic. It seems that there has been some very interesting research conducted by Sven Bjeen of the University of Amsterdam. (Don’t bother looking him up, his faculty page is suspiciously non-existent on the university’s website.) The “studies” show that proteins in hares are nearly identical to those in humans, suggesting a recent common ancestor. In fact, Dr. Peter VanderMan of Brussels University says that the work “indicates that man most likely evolved from an ancient rabbit rather than an ape or monkey.” He even speculated that the missing link probably wiggled its nose like modern bunnies. (Like Bjeen, VanderMan’s faculty page is nowhere to be found. No doubt these men are trying to keep a low profile to avoid hate mail from creationists and rabbitphobes.)

I eagerly await the discovery of the “missing link that moved by hoping and had a hairy pelt.” And luckily, I won’t have to wait long. Weekly World News says that scientists are “confident they will find the direct link by August of 2012.”

Tuesday Video Lunch: Porcupine


Asians have a reputation among Westerners for their exotic tastes. Everybody knows about shark fin soup and dog meat, but that is just the tip of the iceberg lettuce. Alert readers have informed us that porcupine is on the menu in much of Asia. The meat of these rodents is so prized that native populations have been greatly diminished. Demand in Vietnam is so high, that the Pennsylvania Game Commission has recently established bag limits for porcupine hunting in an effort to prevent a black market from developing.

Of course, Asians are not the only people who eat rodents. In South America, the guinea pigs are a common dinner choice.

But porcupines aren’t as soft and cuddly as guinea pigs. And that means they are less easy to kill and eat. If I lion can’t eat a porcupine, then people shouldn’t either. So instead of having porcupine for dinner, let’s have it for Video Lunch!

 

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NEWS: Kristin Hears About Awesome One-Eyed Bullfighter, Gets Complex Feelings About Bullfights


Guess who’s back in the game, guys? It’s Matador Juan Jose Padilla, that guy who got gored through the eye 5 months ago (You really want to see the pictures? Really?)

I hate to say it, but he looks better than ever.

Er.. he figuratively looks better. Um, I mean he looks like he's doing a good job and his style is quite lovely. His depth perception is probably really wonky...I'll just stop now.

As far as human interest pieces go, I particularly enjoy stories where an individual loses to an animal in a fairly predictable way (note: tame ≠ domesticate) then” brazenly” places himself or, less likely, herself right back in the precarious situation usually minus a critical organ. As a pretty risk-averse person, I can really only read these exciting stories knowing I’ll never be …let’s say ‘brave’ enough to take up a career or hobby with bat-shit crazy, wild animals.

And here I am in Spain, with ample opportunity to witness such insanity in person at an actual bullfighting stadium and I just can’t get myself to go. Because it’s one thing to support sports where the occasional show horse gets rowdy or the occasional shark pops up  and a whole ‘nother to actively, purposefully aggravate the animal.

A few podcasts back, Matt and I discussed a Crocodile Baiting show we saw in Thailand that really didn’t jive with us. Animals tamed to put on a show for us seems insensitive to the animals who have better things they’d rather be doing and insulting to the viewers who should know that animals don’t have to interact with people to be awesome.

Yet, now I’m encountering some cognitive dissonance when it comes to distinguishing these kinds of performing-sporting activities. I really enjoyed watching the Sardine Dances at a Korean aquarium but the sea lion bit was too far. Elephants painting seems contrived but neat, but I’m totally over circuses. I would never go to a rodeo but the longer I’m here in Sevilla, the more I feel like I have to see a bullfight or equestrian show of some sort. Perhaps I don’t want to see a show that can go wrong or maybe stupid animals doing tricks won’t keep me up at night.

Hm, I’m perusing the Spain tourism sites, the bullfighting schedules…stay tuned.

 

 

 

 

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Search Engine Mishaps and a Possible Solution


Every so often, I like to read the long and varied list of Search Engine Terms readers use to get to us out of curiousity and for occasional lulz.

I can’t be sure but it seems like every day someone is looking up something like this:

Horse with grils

Yeah, one of these things is not like the others. If you can't tell which, I'm sorry.

…and obviously not getting what they’re looking for, which is obviously this:

This is what you were thinking when you read 'horses with grils'...isn't it?

I’m glad someone dedicated a tumblr to equine sporting cosmetic dental apparatuses (albeit for a short time) to fill this gaping hole in the internet with unquestionably pertinent and meaningful content.

Seriously, don't search for it.  It'll just end up with everybody crying.

On the 8th Day of Christmas, My True Love Gave to Me: Eight Milk Jokes Milking


It’s another edition of

Kristin’s Gloriously Masterful Interpretation of the 12 Days of Christmas™!

Hey wait, this is the bearded one again.  Matt.  Yeah, that is the ticket.

We talk a lot on the podcast about milk, specifically whale milk, and so I figured we could go light on the animals, and really explore another kind of animal.  The human animal.

I figured that during this holiday season, you could use some milk based humor to really get through these hard times.  Maids, bleh, let’s do some milk jokes!

First up, we have one of the greatest shows of recent history, Mr. Show, featuring Jack Black, in The Joke: The Musical.  The content here is a little racy, so don’t show this off to kids.

If you haven’t watched it to the end.  You should, you insane person.

Next up, a random sampling of what you, internet denizens, think is funny!  You freaks!

That's not funny.

No, it’s not, me in the captions!

Wow, that is impressively not funny.

That one seems kind of sexist.

Yeah, maybe you guys aren’t that good at this.  How about pictures of things being milked?

What can't be expressed in a tasteful stippled portrait?

I’ve never seen it look so classy, like it is writing for The New York Times.

Hey, that's not a cow!

True, that guy/girl/person is actually milking a goat.

That's weird, but cute, I guess.

Yeah, I mean, it’s not like doing an innocent search for something on google will give you any horribly strange and brutal results right? I mean, let’s just go over there and search for milking.

Seriously, don't search for it. It'll just end up with everybody crying.

Welp, that’s it.  Internet is over.  Oh, and by the way, I hope you retain that image forever for maids a milking.  Because now I will.  And that is the worst thing that anyone has ever done to me.  I hate you, caption me.

Kissing a Pigeon on the Mouth or Beak

On the 2nd Day of Xmas, My True Love Gave to Me: Two Footless Doves


It’s Kristin’s Gloriously Masterful Interpretation of the 12 Days of Christmas™!

Did you know that half this song is birds? HALF. That’s kind of a messed up deal present-wise if you ask me. Anyway, footless doves.

Don’t worry, I’m not talking about real [read: fancy] doves, I’m talkin’ ’bout Rock Doves and not the fancy versions of those either. Fancy birds don’t lose their feet, everyone knows this.

Perched high on their silk pillows, fancy birds never have to worry about foot problems.

Anyway, take a second and wonder What is it with all those toeless, nubby street pigeon feet? For the longest time, this was barely worth a wonder to me. I just assumed that city people  were constantly stepping on or running over the pigeons’ feet and they just broke off. Then, some time later, I realized that that doesn’t make any sense.

Footlessness

"I simply must learn to look both ways before crossing the street"

Pigeons are slow, goofy-lookin’ walkers to be sure but they can fly and are excellent flyers.

Kissing a Pigeon on the Mouth or Beak

But they don't know to get away when it really counts.

After some minimal detective work and a short study montage, I now know that the foot issues are due to an adorably named affliction, Bumblefoot, or some wayward string or hair that wraps around the area and cuts off circulation until something falls off. Both of these are really terribly painful ways to lose your feet.

Bumblefoot refers to the staph infection that sets in after the bird gets a cut or scrape from a rough surface. Pigeons tend to perch almost exclusively on pointy, abrasive things without wearing socks or shoes. One time, I swear I even saw one standing on the pointed end of a statue’s spear: they really just don’t care. And we all get cuts n’ scrapes but what makes the city pigeon even that much more careless is that he’ll expose himself to bacteria with the staph. And by “expose himself to bacteria ” I mean “stand in his own shit.”

To be fair, shit is probably warmer than concrete... Or, this is evolution at work.

The feet don’t grow back, and usually it’s the nub that’s now exposed to the rough, Staphylococcus-y environments so that the whole cycle might start again and again until the pigeon is completely legless  (otherwise known in the wild as “dead”)

Happy Holidays!

Another Day, Another Evolution Article that Misses the Point Entirely


As I am want to do, I was browsing io9, when I came across this article.

First off, super cool research.  If you are the kind of person who doesn’t click through links, here is the general statement.

There are three basic forms of life that we know today (keeping in mind that nobody agrees with each other ever on how to classify things, and whether life is in this or in that is an incredibly difficult question to even begin to answer.)

Bacteria, which is a small group of 5,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 organisms.  That is a five, followed by 30 zeros.  We don’t talk so much about bacteria on the podcast, because, as single celled organisms, they are a bit outside our purview   However, since they live inside of us, make us sick, and digest our food for us, animal life and bacterial life are intertwined.  As Wikipedia says, inside of you and on your skin, there are 10 times as many bacterial cells as human cells in your body.  Have fun sleeping after finding that out!

Archaea, which is the young upstart domain of life.  Actually, that isn’t true.  It was classified as bacteria for a while, but these cells seem to have a different history of evolution than bacteria.  They do not share all the same traits, and live in a different way than bacteria do.

Eukaryota, which is us.  And anything else that has membranes inside membranes in cells.  This is all animals.  We’re the big things that we see, but we only equal the Bacteria and Archaea in biomass. This is where Animal News: The Podcast usually deals.

However, these three “Domains” as they are called don’t seem to result from one another.  Sure, membranes are shared by all of them.  They all attempt to reproduce and out produce others.  They are all alive, for a lack of a more precise term.  They are all different though, and this seems to point to a weird conclusion.  That if we really want to find out what the first life on Earth was, there must be a common ancestor to all of these.  This is called LUCA (or Last Universal Common Ancestor) in the article.

The article says that researchers have theorized that the LUCA may have been an amorphous, huge blob, of independent cells that passed proteins from one cell to another, to the benefit of the colony.  This blob could have been planet sized, and would have been a gigantic communal organism.  Since this gigantic communal organism would have had the potential to evolve within itself, it would be a good candidate for LUCA, and the three domains would result from it.  It would have eventually been out-competed by it’s evolutionary offspring, dividing into the three domains we know today, and life on Earth would result in the diversity that we have today.

I like the theory.  I really do.  It’s interesting, it does the razor thing well, and it makes a case for a simple thing being the cause of enormous complexity, based on shared traits of the complexity.  Fascinating, probably completely impossible to prove, and it gives a good account of things.  However, shit gets wonky for me when one starts stating things like this.

All life on Earth is related, which means we all must share a single common evolutionary ancestor. And now it appears that this ancestor might have been a single, planet-spanning organism that lived in a time that predates the development of survival of the fittest.

That is bullshit.  First off, the assumption that this organism predates the development of survival of the fittest is an insane claim to make.  Each cell, as stated in the theory, would make proteins, and if they were successful proteins, they would spread far and wide.  That is essentially survival of the fittest, right there.  It’s not like the cells were electing to make some successful and some not.  If a protein that wasn’t successful was created, vast swaths of life would die there, and the protein would not be made any more, because it wouldn’t have been passed to the next group.  This is competition. This is survival of the fittest, within it’s own species.

Second, and this is what you’re tiptoeing around with the LUCA, is that we don’t know if it had actual competitors.  Perhaps it just out competed the other life that was around it, drove them to extinction, and other various forms of life were beaten by LUCA.  This theory doesn’t require that there is no other life around, just that LUCA’s descendants survived, and other life’s descendants didn’t.  This too is survival of the fittest.

Third, I don’t think that this was a “single” organism.  In fact, it sounds a lot like a “single” organism in the way that human beings are a “single” organism.  I don’t mean to imply that this things parts had sentience, or consciousness, but it seems a lot like it was competing with other things to destroy them, much the same way human beings do.  Out produce and out last, spread yourselves far and wide, have lots of babies, and murder the shit out of anything that gets in your way, including other groups of your own species.

Look, I don’t think I am smarter than the writer.  I don’t think I understand the science better than anyone else.  When I read the paper that was posted, I get confused, and I look up everything that I get confused about, but the statements made in this article are somewhat baseless, and moreover, are impossible to prove or disprove.

Evolution is one of the most powerful forces on Earth.  It’s simple, easy to understand, and directly shows the power of the world.  As we talked about in the last podcast, the case for it was made simply a hundred and fifty years ago, and everything that we find out strengthens the argument for it.  That strength is clear and easy, and we don’t need to inflate it.

Matt