Tuesday Video Lunch: Theory of Evolution Simplified


For this week’s Video Lunch, we are going back to school. I grew up near Dover, PA. If you’ve heard of this sleepy little town, it is most likely because of the lawsuit Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District. The short version is: school board includes intelligent design (alongside evolution)  in the curriculum, ACLU sues claiming that teaching ID violates the establishment clause, tax payers are ordered to pay over a million dollars.

I wanted to talk about the specifics of the case and the arguments for and against including ID in school curricula, but that $1,000,000+ bill just overwhelms me. Keep in mind, that is just what they paid to the plaintiffs and their attorneys; that doesn’t include the substantial bills for their own counsel. Everybody involved should have had enough sense to not take this so far. How could either side justify bankrupting the school district over this issue? Everybody would have been better off (especially the children) if they replaced all the science requirements with episodes of South Park.

South Park even teaches evolution:

Tuesday Video Lunch: Dangerous Additives to Breast Meat


For this week’s Video Lunch, we bring you a python that keeps Kosher.

A while ago, Israeli model Orit Fox did a photo shoot with a python. Things took a dramatic turn when the snake decided that he’d had enough of that shit and tried to take a bite out of Fox’s oversized chest. According to some outlets, the snake died of silicone poisoning. Frankly, I don’t believe that part. But the snake totally did bite her on the boob and we have video to prove it. Enjoy!

Tuesday Video Lunch: Something Out of Matt’s Dreams


We all know that vultures eat rotting carcasses, but we at Animal News get to chow down on Video Lunch!

According to Himilayan Raptor Rescue, Asian vultures are going extinct. As is often the case, humans are to blame. This time, however, people are killing the vultures with kindness. That is, kindness for other animals.

Sick and dying livestock are given a drug called “Diclofenac” that acts as an anti-inflammatory and painkiller. It is very effective at easing the pain of ailing farm animals. Unfortunately, it is also quite toxic to vultures. Raptor Rescue claims that vulture populations “have declined by a staggering 99.9% in the last 15 years,” primarily due to this drug.

Vultures are not pretty. In fact, most people find them downright revolting. But they are an essential part of the ecosystem. Without them, rotting carcasses would pile up, creating a serious disease threat and also feeding a growing population of feral dogs.

So what can you do to help protect the Asian vultures? You could donate to Himalayan Raptor Rescue. But if you were feeling more adventurous, you could go parahawking.

Parahawking is the act of paragliding with birds of prey. Raptors are experts at using thermal vents for lift, so they can be used to guide paragliders into the right air streams. And the best part is that the Parahawking company donates a portion of their profits to vulture conservation. Actually, the best part is probably that the hawks will land on your hand while you are paragliding. But conservation is a close second.

Tuesday Video Lunch: Run Free (Lunch)!


For this week’s Video Lunch, we bring you a cute little rodent with a side of “oh no!” This video has been floating around the internet and even became popular enough that The Mail Online did an article about it.

I don’t have anything more to say about it except that it could be viewed as an allegory for the perils of freedom and an illustration of the similarities between love and hate.

“If you love it, set it free. If you hate it and want to see it eaten by a hawk, also set it free.”

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

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:

Tuesday Video Lungh: How? Convenient…


On your way home and feeling hungry? Why not stop at a vending machine and buy some Video Lunch?

Of course, not just any vending machine will do. After all, you had candy bars and soda pop for lunch yesterday, and you are watching your figure (expand.) If only there were a vending machine that sold healthy food items, like fresh seafood. Oh, wait. There totally is a vending machine that sells fresh seafood. Anybody hungry for crabs?

So the Chinese can now get their hairy crabs (grow up) in the subway. You have to admit, these machines “save many troubles.”

Of course, the Japanese are famous for their vending machines. You’ve probably heard that one can purchase umbrellas, eggs or even used underpants from vending machines in Japan. But when I heard that China had live crab vending machines, I thought that they had even outdone the Japanese. I was wrong.

As it turns out, selling live animals in vending machines is old news in Japan. There machines sell live rhinoceros beetles. They apparently make good pets and even better mini-gladiators. (Before you freak out about that, it seems that they don’t actually get hurt when they wrestle.)

They also have claw games. Lobster claw games. Not games with lobster claws, but claw games with live lobsters as the prizes. But there is something that you should know before you write a blog post about how crazy Asia is (I’m looking at you, mirror.) Lobster claw games can be found across the United States, from Maine to Vegas.

Tuesday Video Lunch: Return of the Montauk Monster or Raccoons World Wide


This week’s Video Lunch has a very tabloid-esque feel to it. But what do you expect when an unidentified animal carcass washes up on the beach in California? But don’t take my word for it, watch this stunning* news clip!
*News clip may not actually be stunning.

Not too long ago, a similar discovery was made a hundred miles south of Seal Beach, on a beach in San Diego.  Some claimed that it was the carcass of the famous chupacabra. Based on the photographic evidence, I suspect that the San Diego discovery was actually made by an art student. The recent discovery is far more toned down (without a bleached blond mohawk or strange staring eyes.) Perhaps the same hoaxer has realized that less is more and has gone for a more subtle approach this time.

The news clip also mentions the Montauk Monster, a similar carcass that washed ashore in New York in 2008. No scientists had a chance to examine either the Montauk Monster or the recent California creatures, but based on the photographs, it has been suggested that what washed up in Montauk had been a raccoon. One of the keys to that identification was the long “fingers”, which are also a prominent feature of the Seal Beach discovery. So perhaps this is just a partially decayed raccoon carcass. They have raccoons in Southern California, right?

What am I asking you for? I have the internets right here. Yes, there are raccoons in SoCal. Also, there are raccoons in Germany where they were introduced by a farmer in one location and escaped from a fur farm during WWII in another location. Some former soviet socialist republics also have raccoons because they were introduced for fur hunting. In Japan, there are wild raccoons because everybody and their mother wanted a pet raccoon because of a popular cartoon show. The Japanese love cartoons more than reason itself. And what happens when pet raccoons inevitably escape? Let’s ask Rascal:


Hey, maybe Rascal Raccoon fell out of that canoe and his body washed ashore on Seal Beach, that’d explain everything.

Tuesday Video Lunch: WHAT?!


For all the times we’ve mentioned it on the Podcast, it is amazing that we hadn’t posted the following video earlier. So often our conversation has drifted to the topic of a couple dozen Japanese giant hornets killing 30,000 honey bees in a single attack. It is this sort of insane destruction that makes the Japanese giant hornet the stuff of nightmares. They are terrifying monsters and that is why they are so awesome and so appropriate for this week’s Video Lunch.

But something we never mentioned was that the native Japanese honey bees have a bizarre defensive mechanism that helps them fight off the hornets. If the bees can capture an advance scout hornet, they will engulf it and vibrate to raise their body temperatures, killing the hornet by overheating it. A recent study has shown increased activity in a specific section of the bees’ brains when they are engaged in their defensive ball, perhaps acting as a timer so the bees know when to turn down the heat.

I particularly enjoy the Gone With The Wind style shots of the dead and dying bees writhing on the ground.

Tabloid Thursday: Planking is Dangerous


As usual, the bulk of so-called “news outlets” have missed the most interesting part of an amazing story. Science Magazine, Practical Fishkeeping and the BBC are all reporting that a new study has found that some species of zooplankton actually leap out of the water to avoid predators. The tiny copepods can jump as much as 60 times their own body length. They are only a tenth of an inch long, but still.

This is all fairly amazing. Until recently, it was generally thought that zooplankton mostly just floated around, incapable of real evasive action in the event that predators attacked. Now we see that some of these microscopic animals have a fairly advanced and successful escape mechanism.

It also helps to explain the high survival rate of these specific copepods. These particular copepods do not migrate to darker waters during daylight hours, so they should be easy targets for predators. However, their ability to jump out of the way of danger has allowed them to stay close to the surface without acting as an all-fish-can-eat buffet.

But why do none of these stories mention the terrifying part of this story? They have left out a bit that you can only find from Weekly World News and Tabloid Thursday!

Perhaps it is just to prevent mass hysteria that the story is being suppressed, but we can’t live with the thought that others might be saved, if only they knew the truth about the flying plankton. The “fact” of the matter is that they are not leaping just to escape predators; they are out for blood! The copepods have developed a taste for human blood and are now leaping onto unsuspecting fishermen and sucking them dry. Of course, given their minuscule size, it must take hundreds if not thousands of them to drink all of a fisherman’s blood. However, Weekly World News is “reporting” that “There have been 27 fishermen that have died from the flying plankton over the last few weeks.”

Don’t believe everything you read though. For the first time ever, we have some cause to doubt Weekly World News. They acknowledge that the copepods are 0.1 inch long and can jump 60 times their body length, but they also say that the copepods can “jump ten feet of the water.” Even if we are generous and assume that they mean “ten feet out of the water,” the math seems a bit squiffy. 0.1 in. x 60 = 10 ft? Sounds about right, never mind. Or do they mean that they can jump 10 feet vertically and travel laterally for 60 times their body length? That makes sense too.

EDIT:

Weekly World News is also reporting that a couple of bottle-nosed dolphins have taught themselves to fly, using their fins as wings. Not just leap out of the water, actually fly. But since they quote a “NASA expert” as saying that dolphins learning to fly is ” not completely surprising,” we decided that it really isn’t news-worthy.